Decades ago, when Louisville, Nebraska, even more closely resembled Mayberry, the old-fashioned service station was run by a gentle soul. His old hound dog was a regular fixture there.
One day a customer pulled in to the station, eager to get to the gas pump. They were delayed by the dog, ambling across the drive, pausing to look at the impatient driver… before continuing slowly on his way.
When the customer finally got to the pump, they jumped out to yell at the proprietor. “That is the laziest dog in all of creation!”
The proprietor offered a different explanation: “He ain’t lazy, he’s just got nothing to do.” Neither person convinced the other, of course.
I was reminded of this story in talking to recent retirees. Most have full days and weeks. This one travels extensively and gardens in between trips; that one helps with younger generations; another is busy improving the country acreage that is home. One says going to the gym is the new job. Some work part-time at hobby jobs.
But a small fraction of people are at loose ends—out of sorts—often after retiring from long careers. Like the hound dog, they get the sense they’ve got nothing to do.
Perhaps those who retired to something more specific do better with this than those whose focus is on getting away from that job or career. Those who are getting away are focused on the past, while those who are retiring to do other things are ready for the future. (No judgment from us: sometimes we must make changes for the sake of our mental or emotional health and can sort out the future later.)
The lesson, if there is one, is to think about the best way to invest our hours and days when we anticipate gaining more control over them. When we are intentional about what we are doing, boredom has less of an opportunity to take root, and there’s more space for whatever is about to begin.
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