Time Becomes Elastic

How did it get so

late so soon?

Dr. Suess

One of the most intriguing discoveries that I have made about the transition to retirement has been my experience with time. On one hand, time seems to extend over entire days like an elastic band being stretched farther and farther, and then on the other hand, it snaps and goes by far too quickly. The topic of time is by far one of the most curious aspects of retirement that others ask about. “What do you do with all of your time?” is now a question that I have come to expect when someone inquires about my transition from full time work.

When I was preparing for retirement, boredom was a state that I was certain I could avoid. After all, during the busy and exhausting many years that I worked full time, I often daydreamed about time. Having more of it to do what I needed to do and more importantly, what I thought I truly wanted to do. It didn’t occur to me that time might slow considerably and that it was in fact, possible for the state of boredom to emerge in my life.

I had left work at the end of May and found that most of that first summer was like being on an extended vacation. Once the calendar rolled over to September, I began to flounder somewhat and found that in an effort to stave off boredom, I scheduled far too many activities into my life. My sleeping, eating, and exercise routines remained much the same as they had been during my full time work life. These routines were designed to manage the overcommitted aspects of that world.

Much of that first year was spent busily exploring this new reality, visiting with family and friends that previously there was never enough time to connect with. Leaning on friendships of others who were retired and had more experience with this stage of life than I did. Taking classes, committing to volunteer projects for worthy organizations, developing small contracts using my professional skills, enjoying day time yoga classes, starting a book club, and many other activities. All of this “busyness” certainly fulfilled my psychological need to manage the change impact of this transition.

As I moved into the second year of retirement from full time work, I became more discerning about what I was willing to commit to and began the process of unravelling previous routines and developing a new understanding of what I wanted to be doing with my life. I seemed to be learning to spend more time in state of relaxed reflection in order to consider what I needed either more or less of in my life. This continues to be a work in progress and as I alter my relationship with time as well as boredom, I am starting to appreciate that time is truly the ultimate gift that we have. What is your relationship with time?

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