Monday, November 12 , 2018, 10:04 pm | Fair 50º

 
 
 

Paul Burri: Random Retirement Ruminations

Peggy Lee recorded a song in 1969 entitled, “Is That All There Is?” Thinking back on it reminds me of the story about the man who loved to fish.

This man worked at a job that satisfied and rewarded him but still, hardly a day went by that he didn’t dream about the weekend or his next two-week vacation when he could get out on the lake to do his favorite thing — fishing.

So, eventually, after a long, satisfying career he finally reached retirement and sure enough, the next Monday, bright and early he was out on the lake in his boat, fishing. Tuesday he was out there again. Wednesday the fishing was great and he had a wonderful time. Same for Thursday and Friday.

The following week, he spent every day on the lake. Ditto the week after that.

On Thursday of the seventh week, the fishing was a little slow and he had some time to think about his former career and how enjoyable retirement was with the freedom he had to pursue his favorite thing.

On Friday of the week after that, a new thought came to him. “Is this all there is?” Suddenly he realized he was now facing another 20 or so years of doing what he was doing at the moment. And he got scared because he was starting to get bored.

Retirement can be a scary thing — and especially for men. There’s an interesting theory about the reason for that and it concerns the difference between the way men and women think about themselves. It turns out that women have known the answer for thousands of years. Men perhaps still haven’t learned the secret.

Is you ask the average woman the question, “Who are you?” she will probably answer something like this, “I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a daughter, I am a sister, I am an aunt and I am an accountant.” Ask a man the same question and the chances are he will answer, “I am an engineer” or “I am a lawyer” or “I am a computer analyst.”

Women identify themselves in an emotional and relational context. Men identify themselves by what they do rather than who they are. Being a father or a husband or a brother usually takes second place to what they do for a living. Get a couple of men together and the first thing they want to do is exchange business cards and know about what the other guy does for a living. I think it’s a sort of a hierarchical thing. I also look at it as men’s equivalent of canine genital sniffing.

The main problem with a man’s attitude of identifying himself with what he does is that when he retires he can no longer say I’m an accountant or I’m an attorney or I’m a physician. He is now a — well, exactly what is he? He could easily feel that he is now a nothing. Bad news.

So what’s the secret of a successful retirement? My idea of a successful retirement is to have many interests in one’s life. Getting tired of fishing every day with no end in sight? Play a little golf. Read. Play bocce. Write a book. Join a charitable organization and start giving back. That last idea is especially rewarding — not only to one’s own mental and physical health — but also to the beneficiaries of the charity. It’s called a win/win.

One last bit of advice about retirement. Among those varied retirement interests, I suggest you avoid things like rock climbing, pole vaulting, power lifting or ski jumping. As someone once said, “Old age is not for wimps.” If you are like me, you’ll get much greater satisfaction from arguing with friends over coffee, eating out in fancy restaurants, napping in the afternoon, and thinking about not having to go to work tomorrow.

And giving back is very rewarding.

— Goleta resident Paul Burri is a writer, columnist, inventor, woodworker, photographer, board member, business consultant and chairman of the local SCORE Recruitment Committee. Comments and praise are welcomed and can be directed to him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Criticisms are discouraged. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]oozhawk.com. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.