My story is not one of unqualified success or dismal failure, but in between. I am 62 years old, almost 63. I have worked for a Federal agency for 31 years and will retire in 2 years. My wife and I have been married for almost 37 years with no children, by choice. Instead, we have 8 parrots and 4 cats, who bring us great joy.
My life has had its ups and downs, from adolescent schizophrenia and hospitalizations, to having a nice home with beautiful landscaping. In fact, I consider my life’s mission to be a very simple one, to create beauty in my environment, and happiness and contentment in my being. I believe that I do not need a grand and glorious purpose in my life, or have goals to feel that I have succeeded in life or reached some pinnacle.
However, at this stage in my life, I have fears, as I believe many men my age have. I worry about having enough money in the future; about how I can maintain my physical capabilities as I age, and if I have the will to maintain them; if I will continue to live in my home, or if I will move to another state; and how my wife and I will face aging.
I will have my Federal pension, my wife will have her teachers’ pension and Social Security, and we have securities. In a year, our mortgage will be paid off. We have home repairs we are doing gradually, but we fear our taxes going up so much that we will not be able to afford to live in our home. How we face it if we have to give the home we have become so attached to? We will have to search long and hard for another place to live, far from the home we love. How will we make new friends? Will we be remain in contact with friends in the place we left?
Health-wise, I have osteoarthritis in my knees, take Celebrex, and am 15 to 20 years away from knee replacement. I also have degenerative discs in my neck, and arthritis and scoliosis in my lower back. They all cause pain, but the pain is mostly tolerable. I don’t go to the gym on a regular basis, maybe once a week. In good weather, I do yard work and gardening, which I love and gives some kind of
exercise. I slowly walk 8/10 of a mile to the bus stop in good weather. I also have sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine. I consider myself to be somewhat of a depressive and only take St. John’s Wort. My wife and I have seen a psychologist on a monthly basis in the past, and it has seemed to help with issues we have faced.
That is about me. But the me inside myself is tortured by fears, as I said above. How do I deal with them? I listen to music I enjoy, work outside in my yard and gardens, work on my stamp collection, operate my model trains, cook and enjoy meals with my wife, have regular sex, enjoy my cats, surf the Web and look at favorite sites. But those nagging fears about retirement and life when I’m older keep surfacing. My wife and I plan to visit places we are considering retiring to, which is always a good idea. We have a retirement planner, who does more than sell “product”. My wife and I also talk a lot about our future together, our hopes, fears, and dreams. As a committed team, we listen to and support each other. Perhaps the way to push fears about the future into the back of my mind is to be fully conscious in the present moment, and try not to be too attached to the material things we have, including our home. In Buddhist philosophy, in which I find much to agree with, attachment creates suffering.
So: where do I stand now? Age 62, 2 years from retirement, 1 year from having my mortgage paid off, married 36 years, in fairly decent physical health, trying to deal with my fears about the future, trying to be optimistic and positive about the future, while being realistic. I have no idea how much time I have left, but I will tell you this: at my 60th birthday party, my cake was inscribed – “60 years down, 60 to go.” That’s what I’m aiming for. My dream is to live that long, happily, contentedly, living comfortably wherever I am with my wife, to be in good health and physically capable of doing whatever my conditions will let me do, enjoying my interests and hobbies, creating beauty in my world and the world around me, and enjoying the company of others. I will always try to do my best to achieve my dream.