When I retired the second time, I received from my cube farm family among other things a puzzle, a coloring book and a journal. Each of them objects of sedentary endeavor. The puzzle still has the cellophane wrap on the box. It is a puzzle of “The Thundering Herd” my favorite college football team and one of our country’s most storied programs. On the box, there is a choking hazard warning so I must remember that as my mental capacity ages. The coloring book is one of those with elaborate detailed drawings laid out in a God Bless America theme. It would probably take me a day or two to color one of those pages. Problem is my old friends including my cube farm compatriots and more than a few old Soldiers would tell you that I have trouble staying inside the lines. Willingness more akin to burning desire to strike out in an unorthodox direction is an inclination that served me well, mostly. Both the puzzle and the coloring book are intended to busy the mind, but for my part require more patience than cat fishing in the rain using raw chicken livers for bait. As for the journal if you rummage around inside the bunker, you will find many notebooks of various sizes filled with my scribbles – years worth. There is always one nearby to capture any brilliant thought that may somehow find its way into my head. Come to think of it, I may want to feed those notebooks to the shredder someday soon. It is faster than thumbing through them and ripping out the damning pages. Not that there are any. Maybe a few. Dozen.
When I told my Doc I was retiring, finally retiring, the first thing he asked was, “What are you going to do? Do you have a hobby? Something to work on? Do you play golf? If you have nothing to occupy your mind and time, you’re going to die.” I like my Doc, he gets right to the point. I told him I have a set of golf clubs hanging on the wall in my garage, at home there since I left the Army back in 99. I tried to learn the game. After several years of trying and my son understanding that I was uncoachable, I was able to make it through 18 holes without losing too many balls, but the guys who started drinking beer and smoking cigars after the 9th hole were still beating me handily. One of them told me he hoped my swing never broke down because I would never be able to find the parts to fix it. I kicked his fancy golf bag off the cart. Another after I dribbled the ball a few feet from the tee told me my aim was good, I just needed to work on my distance. I asked him if he remembered who drove him to the course. I finally gave it up when I showed up to the driving range in hopes of improving my feeble skills and was turned away because my shirt didn’t have a collar on it. And this is a sport that includes drinking beer and smoking cigars.
While I was doing my Rocky Balboa impersonation at the gym this morning, I was thinking about that stuff. Since I retired June 30, 2016, I have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest and there’s no let up in sight. The greatest thing, everyday is Saturday if I want it to be. I have no schedule, except for Drill Sergeant Suzie-Q ensuring I am up and at it in the gym three mornings a week. We go there together on the buddy plan. That is a big help. Just for the sake of clarification I can still bench press more than she can. I am feeling good, my weight is near where it should be and I am quite polite as I lap seasoned citizens on the track, well citizens a little more seasoned than I. Hitting the gym on a regular schedule also helps me to keep track of what day of the week it is. It is easy to lose track of that since Friday’s lost their significance and every day feels like Saturday. Making barbecued ribs on a weekday afternoon in place of nachos and coffee back in the cube is sweet as the expression goes these days. And you know what else? My yard looks great and I haven’t spent one minute of a Saturday out there yet.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been some challenges. In the Army we had NCO Business and Officer Business and one worked at staying in his or her lane. Here at Pendry manor we have Suzie-Q business. Staying in my lane keeps me in good stead.
I’m going to keep that puzzle, coloring book, and journal right where I can see them as reminders that life did not slow down when I retired it sped up. For my friends back in the cube farm, that is sunshine you see at the end of the tunnel not an oncoming locomotive. Well for all of you except a couple.
© 2017 J. D. Pendry