There's no time like now
A life of retirement is neither a fall from status nor a time to dwell on past achievements. Here are examples of people who have found that with an interesting hobby even the twilight years can be brighter.
HOW OFTEN do you hark back to the past? To the time when you had a spacious bungalow to live in and a large, air-conditioned office to work in. With executive assistants and office boys at your beck and call. Some of us even had chauffeur driven cars.
But, then comes a life of retirement. And you miss the retinue of attendants: cooks who prepared fancy five-course dinners, stewards who fixed you a Scotch-and-soda every evening. It is an unending round of do-it-yourself. You are also acutely conscious of how expensive it is to engage help for maintenance and repair jobs.
All of a sudden, you become conscious of your reduced status, especially on the home front. This is the unkindest cut of all! Just when your mind lingers languorously on delectable dreams, your wife nudges you to fetch the milk from the neighbourhood booth. You wait, along with the maidservants from a dozen other houses. Some even have the temerity to bark at you for jumping the so-called queue!
Your grown-up son ( no less than an MBA!) gives you an unsolicited lecture on economics and runs down your decision-making skills! You wonder whether you are the efficient guy you once took pride in being. Next, your daughter hollers from the bathroom for you to drop her off at college, the shopping mall, or wherever else. Your plans for the day have to be shelved as you prepare yourself to play the role of chauffeur for the day. The problem is solved, forever, you think, when she gets her driving licence. But then you realise with dismay that you have forfeited your car too! "Relax, Dad," she says in sugar-sweet tones. All at once, your children are telling you where to sleep, where to sit, how to dress and even how you should improve your table manners.
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself or accepting this fall from status, you could do something! Perhaps you could pick up that pen of yours and write. You just might discover that you have a talent for writing. Or, how about pulling out that Black & Decker planner which you bought yourself in America 10 years ago, and work on your meticulously planned (It's all in the head, you say!) carpentry projects? Who knows, you may have a talent for charcoal drawing or painting on canvas. Instead of conventional art, you might even have a flair for finger painting!
A woman acquaintance of mine, who is in her sixties, has just discovered this. Although, as a hobby, pottery is not very popular, there is a woman friend I know who learnt the skills from the village potter ... all this after retirement.
A retired Colonel of the Indian Army once found some driftwood when he was posted in Assam 20 years ago. That was the dawn of a new passion; picking up interesting shapes of driftwood, shaping, sand-papering, and polishing them into artefacts and even holding an exhibition- cum-sale to boot! The glow on his face and the enthusiasm in his voice as he talks about his interest belie his eighty years!
Interested in classical music, dance or drama? You don't have to make a song and dance about it - there is a wealth of culture that you can get engrossed in, wherever you live. I know of a versatile person in the field of arts: a typical government official, who spent nearly 30 years in service. Not once did he cross Indian shores during his long years of service in Delhi. Of course, he was a well-known face in the capital's culture scene, as he was a music/dance/drama critic of a mainline daily in Delhi. After retirement, he taught advertising for nearly 15 years; and even travelled as many as 27 times abroad - all in connection with his cultural activities! Till the last of his 80 long years, he was active and incisive as ever, and won a Jawaharlal Nehru fellowship award as a Sanskrit scholar. He was my father.
Like these people, you too could discover suddenly that 24 hours are not enough for you. So instead of spending the evening of your life brooding over the past or in mundane activities, consider that every moment lost is lost forever. Start now! Yesterday is gone forever; tomorrow is a mystery! Today is here now. Grab it. Action is the magic word! It is never too late to begin.
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