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Musings on Retirement
by W. Lee Lewis

This is my response to the question: "What does a retiree do all day?"

I built a nice house on a lake about twelve years ago and called myself building additional space in the garage for a small workshop. Now there are two refrigerators in that space. My tools are gently rusting, and there is not enough space to do anything constructive anyway. So, I've got some tools but do absolutely nothing with them. I've got a highbrow Craftsman radial arm saw I bought from a friend several years ago that I've never used. It probably has a grand total of about two hours use since he sold it to me because it was too big for the space he anticipated using for his shop.

Okay, I live on a lake so I can go fishing any time I want. So, do I go fishing every day? Of course not. I live on a lake. I used to think going fishing was about fishing. It's not! It's about going. You gotta drive twenty miles away with all your "stuff" where there is nothing else you can do but fish. If you live on a lake there are entirely too many things you need to do, so you feel too guilty to actually go fishing.

I do all the grocery shopping since my wife hates the grocery store; that gets me out of the house and gives me an opportunity to check out all the rest of the shoppers. I have a large yard with lots of trees, bushes and flowers. That interests me. And I have even taken to planting trees at the Episcopal camp north of Canton, Mississippi. They have about 750 acres there and a nice conference center but have never had the money to plant the trees that need to be planted. So, I'm doing it. I pay for the trees and I plant them. That's a good deal since I do it by choice. If it was my job, it just wouldn't happen.

I play around with the harmonica and own quite a few of them. That provides me pleasure although I don't practice enough to say I actually play the damned things. Retirees really should consider a musical instrument to keep their time occupied. The harmonica is cheap and entertaining, and you can play it while driving. Hey, it's safer than those cell phones that every woman on the road has attached to her ear.

And I'm the treasurer at church and sing in the choir and take care of a lot of stuff I've planted there on the church lawn over the years. Incidentally, the vast majority of my personal relationships are through the church. It presents great social opportunities and allows you to pursue your own peculiarities if you are willing to be considered either eccentric or peculiar. I'm happy with either one.

I could never be bored because if I had to cease and desist suddenly from my current interests, I'd simply pick up a bunch of new things to do. Now, I do not wish to proclaim that I am motivated in some way to achieve great things. I'm one of the world's great procrastinators. Actually, I would rather claim that no activity can proceed without painstaking planning, so I am planning rather than procrastinating. And it pains me to admit this, but I am also lazy.

I do have a bit of the lust for wandering. There are so many places I would like to go, and there is no reason why I don't go there except that they require far too much planning. I really should be ashamed. I am trapped by inertia.

But, I must say, retirement is vastly superior to working for a living, and I love the opportunity to change directions on a dime. Now all I need to do is actually get off my ass and do the things I dream about and hunger for.

Fortunately, I have always enjoyed the anticipation about as much as the realization.


A native of the Mississippi Delta and graduate of Millsaps College, Lee Lewis now resides in Jackson, where he once worked in the insurance business and is now happily retired. He's the father of two and the husband of one.


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