As kids we were busy being. Kids play, kids fuss, they question, and they spend time staring off into space with no agenda or plan for their time. There is no expectation that anything kids do will necessarily result in something of value to anyone. In fact, we encourage children to just be, to take the time in play and to bask in all the aspects of childhood thus helping these little ones mature into healthy grown-ups.
A measurement of worth
As adults we’re all about doing, and often there is the expectation that our efforts in doing will result in something important for our employers or something that pleases and supports our families or ourselves. What we do is often rewarded with pay and kudos for a job well done.
And we’re measured – or at least our success or failure is measured – by that doing. Additionally, as we age, our time doing nothing, or just being, is often frowned upon as wasting time.
So, what happens when we retire and there is nothing per se for us to do – nothing that creates a product or service to benefit others?
Is our self-worth negatively affected?
Are we looked upon as no longer givers/providers but only takers in our society?
Does the phrase “Out to pasture” apply to us as seniors in most cases?
Do we elders feel compelled to keep doing something of value to avoid that pasture? I know I have on occasion. There is a huge benefit to communities when senior citizens jump in to do for others.
The answers to these questions relating activity to worth only matter if we let them matter. In our retirement, we are in charge. We decide how much we produce, if anything, and how much we kick back, strap into our Barcaloungers and read or watch TV. It matters not a wit what others feel about how much or how little we do in any given day. Sometimes the one doing the judging is in our own minds. Is there a worse critic than yourself when it comes to goofing off?
Do you know a person who is always busy, never slowing down for any serious down time with no product or service to show for it? We refer to these people sometimes as Type A personalities. We’re concerned they’ll get burnt out if they never take it easy and skip a day of some self-imposed work they are busy doing. Personally, I can have busy days where I accomplish a lot but I can also be the Queen-of-Taking-Time-Off to do very little or nothing!
There’s a personal balance each of us can attain.
How much of each is up to you
So, let’s go back to the idea that it doesn’t matter what others, including family and friends, feel about how active we are or not. Some days I’m researching for this blog and writing. Some days I do that all day. There are other days when I’m just being. I don’t look active, but my mind is still whirling around myriad ideas, plans, questions, and facts to research. I don’t clock in for anything I do or anytime I’m just being.
The bottom line, if there needs to be one, is that it’s up to you. I’m busy now because there’s a ton of stuff I’m curious about and want to write about. I’m sure there’ll come a time when — like any moment now — lifting a junk novel to read in bed will be the toughest thing I do all day.
Ignore judgment from others but, more importantly, don’t compare your doing vs being to anyone else. You’re unique. Enjoy all that you do. That’s why it’s called retirement. You can retire the doing and just be.