Having been cooped up at home for fifteen months made me realize a number of things. For instance, I have enjoyed working from home more than I ever expected, so much so that as we ease our way back into the social fabric, I’ll continue to spend more time working from home than in the office.
Another is the realization that as much as I have compartmentalized it, my disability is real and has become more pronounced. I have to take it into consideration every time I do anything physical, whether it be as benign as getting into and out of bed to cleaning the house or helping with outdoor work. I’ll write more about this later, but the cold fact is that every physical activity I undertake is hard because I am less stable and prone to falling more than ever. I used to think of myself as an able-bodied person who had a hitch in their giddy-up, but that has changed. I now identify myself as a disabled person who fights like hell not to think like one. The difference is subtle, but it is real, and it sucks.
The biggest epiphany has been that working from home has given me a taste of what it might be like not to work anymore. The idea of retirement used to be this vague notion that I knew was somewhere down the road but wasn’t a real thing. Not anymore. It is real, and it has a date: the title of this post.
I have exactly four years, six months and thirteen days to go. I don’t have a calendar where I cross off the days, or some kind of mental countdown. Nonetheless, having a milestone like this less than five years away makes it seem very close and very real, so much so that I am beginning to consciously plan for it, which is a first.
The idea of what I once thought of as being put out to pasture used to be anathema, but now I welcome it. Not because I hate my job, hate working, or hate the people I work with, but because of the freedom it brings. Maybe it is part of getting older and the mindset that goes with it, but I enjoy not having to shave or get dressed up every day. I enjoy my time off more than ever and actually look forward to it. This tells me I am ready to take the plunge when the time comes. Perhaps being physically seperated from my colleagues all this time has made it easier to embrace the concept, but there is no denying I have no doubts about my ability to enjoy retirement.
I’d consider an earlier date, but there are economic realities that prevent it. I need to finish paying for this house, so having a steady income certainly helps. My treatments are cheap and are going to continue for the foreseeable future, and I have excellent health insurance that meets my needs. Why mess with that?
Four years, six months and thirteen days give me more than enough time to chip away at my debt while continuing to grow the assets we will need to live on, and I don’t want to leave anything to chance. I want to be able to afford the health insurance I will continue to use need and use, and not have to worry about making ends meet. There is a certain number I have in mind, and we are close to getting there. Plus the full retirement age for social security benefits is sixty six years and ten months, (I’m not going to wait until I am 70, which is the max benefit age) so that is the target date.
The one thing I need to be sure of is that when the day comes, I have something to do that I enjoy and will occupy my time, because hanging around with nothing to do other than watching the minutes tick by is a fate worse than death. I doubt travelling will be on the agenda because the reality of dealing with crowded airports and jetting off someplace to see the sites is a lot more cumbersome and complicated than before.
I was never a gardening kind of guy, so that’s out. I got rid of my golf clubs ten years ago. I was never into fishing, but even if I was the same physical issues remain. So that leaves writing, and the one thing retirement will do is eliminate the excuse that I’m not writing as much as I would like because I don’t have the time.
For the last several months I have hardly posted anything to this blog and, with few exceptions, I haven’t devoted many hours working on novel number two, even though it is almost half-way done, because I work long days and don’t have the energy or desire necessary to produce anything good. That won’t be the case anymore when January 8, 2026 rolls around, so we will find out if that excuse was legitimate or bullshit. Maybe I’ll even resume painting, which I did a lot when I when much younger. I could also spend more time cooking, which I’m sure K wouldn’t mind one bit.
I have a lot of time to figure out what I will do, and a lot can change between now and then. The point is I have options and am actually looking forward to having to make those decisions.
Let’s hope my body cooperates.