The Realer World
Some people stop living, figuratively or even literally, when they stop working. I think this is more likely when retirement is a surprise, due to a disability or a layoff. For me, there was no boredom and no sense of anxiety or loss or remorse.
Sometimes, people will ask me if I miss the “real world.”
Before I retired, my brain was crammed with essential information about things like the “bid” and “ask” of the long bond or the “ins” and “outs” of the tax code.
When I first retired, I had a recurring dream, starring a Former Coworker and Our Hero:
FC: Hey, I hate to bother you, because I know you don’t do this anymore, but you used to do this, and you used to know what to do in this situation.
(There follows an explanation of the law, the market, and the politics of a situation, in such mind-numbing specificity that I almost fall asleep, even though I am dreaming.)
OH: Well, I used to do this, and I used to know what to do in this situation, but at this point, honestly, I have no earthly idea what in the world you are even talking about.
Three months ago, I was the best troubleshooter in the business. Today, not so much.
In the same three months, I drove “shut ins” to the doctor and played with sick kids and rocked an abandoned baby and worked at a methadone clinic.
And I visited a bridge and a dumpster and an encampment where homeless people live, all within three miles of where I slept every night in a warm bed for almost thirty years.
As I was describing all of this to a friend, he summarized my situation better than I could:
“You dropped out of the real world,” he explained, “and into the realer world.” Agreed, well said.