Poor but Happy?

by A.M.E.C.
(Price, Utah, )

Friends are starting to die; I am a member of AARP; and my profession is changing rapidly enough that I am starting to feel obsolete. No, not obsolete -- anachronistic.

Mind you, I prefer my talents to those now prized, but that doesn't change the fact that times are changing and I am ready to change too. The preferred direction of my change, though, is away from the workforce and toward the gentler but equally as complex, multi-faceted challenge of retirement.

I'm looking forward to it, a few years from now. I have never equated my identity with my work, so I don't predict any transition crisis there. I think I will have to learn how to structure my life differently, certainly; and I have definitely gotten into the habit of too much multitasking, which I expect will be difficult to break.

Maybe I'll even feel adrift at first. But I see it as a time to renew myself, even re-engineer myself (!). I want to develop different aspects of myself, try different things, think different ideas, embrace different experiences.

The only real challenge I see is that I will be dirt poor doing it. I have never spent a lot of money, nor have I been the sort to live for today without planning for tomorrow. But I have worked at low-paying jobs, and I have often been without insurance (including now).

I think I can count on one hand the number of years I worked for a company that actually had retirement benefits. So I have little, and will have to rely mostly on Social Security. Money isn't everything, though, and I can live happily with little, if I have to.

I would prefer to spend my "golden years" traveling to warm tropical islands and lunching at country clubs, but what the heck. I've never been able to do that anyway, and a free hike along a beautiful trail works just as well.

So, strange as it sounds, as long as I can stay healthy, I figure I can manage just fine. After that, well, it's either death or bankruptcy, I guess. One of the things that age has given me is a certain willingness to accept things over which I have no control.

There's nothing I can do to change my financial circumstances, short of winning a lottery, so I will welcome the day of my retirement and rely on optimism and creativity to shape the rest of a life worth living.

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