SOMEWHERE AROUND the age of sixty-five, many people decide it's time to stop working and start just enjoying life. The trouble, of course, is that they're apt to discover that with nothing much to do except play golf, travel, catch up on their reading, watch TV, and so on, life isn't all that enjoyable. They need something to give themselves to the way they once gave themselves to their jobs. The question is, give themselves to what? Maybe they could do worse than give themselves to the world that needs them as much as they need the world.
This may involve things like volunteer work at the hospital or delivering meals on wheels or heading the library-fund drive, but the place where giving yourself to the world starts is simply paying attention to the world—to the people you've been saying hello to for years without really knowing them, to the elementary-school kids hanging upside down on the jungle gym, to the woman taxi driver with the face of a Boston bull and no teeth to speak of who waits for fares at the bus stop, to the old vets marching down Main Street on Memorial Day.
If retirees just learn to keep their eyes open, the chances are they will find themselves more involved, fulfilled, challenged, and nourished than all the years they spent with their noses to the grindstone. And enjoying themselves more too.
-Originally published in Beyond Words