Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Retirement - Skills

I was thinking this morning about retirement while I was stretching. Thinking about one of my basic tenants - that we must never stop learning. The aspect I was ruminating as I tried to bend over and touch the floor (with a cat jumping onto my back as I bent over - said cat then proceeding to kneed my upper back - not sure how he learned to do that, but good kitty!) was the range of things I enjoy doing. Electrical, automotive, sewing, stained glass, bread making, woodworking, antique restoration, clock repair, and a whole lot more - it is an interesting and eclectic list. Looking back I can now see that I kept right on picking up new skills each time I came up against a need. Yes, each time I could have taken the easy way out, and paid someone to fix whatever needed fixed. But, somehow, most times I chose to address the issue myself. Which, each time, meant getting out a book (or the internet now) and learning. The story of my first engine overhaul started at the library with a McGraw-Hill book on auto mechanics. And hey, there really were pistons inside that large piece of cast iron hiding under the hood of my 1955 Mercury. And one of them had a hole where holes are not supposed to be.

A “Renaissance Man” is a person who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field. Why is this important - I can see at least three reasons. First - when something breaks it is so much more cost effective if you can fix it yourself. I talked to one retired couple here who were very impressed by their handyman - why, he only charged them $75 an hour, and he can fix anything! Nuff said on that?

Second - I believe that most of us will need a “retirement career” so we can afford to live to a ripe old age. It is so much easier to choose a second career if one has developed a range of skills to draw on. And it is best if that something fascinates one while making it possible to earn money and providing social interaction - in short, a good life. And, if you have already mastered a skill you probably know if you enjoy it. I really pity folk who retire, decide what they want to do, get all the training, and then find they really don’t enjoy doing it.

Third - satisfaction, and happiness come from doing - and being able to do a wide variety of things really does make for a lot of happiness.

The more proficiencies you develop before you retire (I had typed “when you are young” instead of “before you retire”, but hopefully you will get to retire before you get old) the more options you will have for your post-retirement occupation.

And the less stress you will feel each time something breaks or quits working since you can, and really should know how to fix it.

The photo shows Max chewing on my ear. He has fortunately quit doing that, and now gives me back massages when I stretch.

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