It’s time to retire. But how?

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By DON VOWELL

Complete inability to play Tetris has helped me to understand that it is time to retire.  We recently re-installed a Paleolithic-era Nintendo game deck and everybody around here can still play the game.   But I can’t.

When we first got this machine in 1948, I never rose to the skill level of our children, but I could sometimes guide all the little colored stacks of cubes to the occasional fluke victory.  Saturday night I was completely buffaloed, couldn’t see where to put things and froze up in frustration.  It made me mad—full realization that I am old and useless.  Time to retire.

Common wisdom says you should plan for retirement.  We even have a book here telling us how to prepare.  I don’t know why I should start planning now.  None of my life has been planned so rigorously.

I was born just like everyone else.  I had a wonderfully average and happy childhood just like I was supposed to.  I went to elementary school just like I was supposed to.  Went through high school and survived many slightly stupid adventures, just like my friends.  Then I made a half-hearted pass at becoming a hippie, because everybody else was.  All of that happened just through following the path of least resistance.

The first actually orchestrated event in my life was a persistent and long-term effort to marry the right woman, a campaign that continues to pay dividends above all others.

I got steady and reliable work and we had two children, just like you’re supposed to.  That was not actually planned, though we understood it could happen.  Without actually planning to, we ended up in Oregon.  We got great pleasure in supporting our children, grateful to the teachers and reassuringly ordinary schools of Keizer for giving them a solid base of knowledge, just like they were supposed to.  They have both graduated from college, as expected.

Now, because I am old enough, I will retire just like I’m supposed to.  Life so far has been very pleasing without the interference and rigidity brought on by planning and scheming.  So, I’ll just retire and see what happens.

We have older friends and friends the same age that have retired.  With disturbing frequency they say that in retirement you find yourself busier than ever you were while working full-time.  I’ll do whatever I can to prevent that.  I’ll sit still until I think of something I want to do.

Our helpful book on retirement says how many hundreds of thousands of dollars we should have in order to be comfortable.  In a visit with a financial planner we were asked what monthly amount we would need to live the way we want.  Regardless of what we want we already know what our retirement and social security will pay.  Rather than imagining how good life could be if we had more income, we’ll imagine how good life can be if we are content with what we’ve got.  That’s worked well enough til now.   We’ll live quietly, pursuing our own little pleasures, helping where we can, and hoping for grandkids-—exactly as though we’d planned it that way.

(Don Vowell lives in Keizer.)

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