I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the freedom old age brings.
I know there are many burdens that can come with old age, such as mobility problems, memory loss, loneliness. But there are also good things. Things I look forward to.
Having just returned from a wonderful two-week guided tour – a week on the Danube River followed by a week touring beautiful sites in Eastern Europe – I was surrounded by mature adults (a general term). The average age on this tour had to be in the 70s, and my husband and I felt quite youthful by comparison. (We’re 52.)
We had such a great time, that I found myself thinking, I wonder why there aren’t more people our age doing this? It’s GREAT!
Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s not wanting someone else to organize things. (Although I found that to be a rather nice aspect. Suprising coming from a control freak like me. I’ve always enjoyed planning the details of our travels.)
No. I think it’s probably about time. Taking two weeks off (or four weeks,..,or eight….or twelve) at once is not easy for a working person. For most of us, it has to wait until retirement.
I’m suffering from retirement envy. My sister recently retired. Another friend of mine retired at the beginning of this year. And my boss (and close friend) retired a month ago. They are all so happy. They look great. They feel great. They smile a lot. They’re having fun. I want to be them.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy my work. In fact, I really do. I love the people I work with, too. And I know I’m lucky to feel that way about my career. I ‘m grateful.
But in retirement, you have many, many options for what to do with your time. That’s an intoxicating concept for me. It’s something I very much look forward to. To be unencumbered.
I think “encumbered” is one of those words that sounds right for what it describes. Like “gushing” or “whisper.” To me, “cumber” just sounds like a hassle and a burden….and to be “encumbered” is like being swallowed by this cumber.
It’s the way I feel when I have too much food in my belly. Encumbered.
Or too much stuff on my calendar. Or on my mind. Encumbered.
It’s also the way I feel when I’m trying to please too many people. As a responsible adult, a parent, a leader, and a person in Human Resources .Maybe the feeling comes from so many years of being like the hall monitor or the police or the principal. And sometimes it’s nice to think about a time when my kids are grown and I’ve retired and I become one of those people who can just do what I want when I get up in the morning and say whatever comes to mind without weighing whether it’s politically correct….
Old people do that. They are unencumbered.
Wow. That last line took about 5 minutes to write. I arrived at, “Old people”, but I toiled with whether to say, “Elderly people” or “Older people” or “People of a ‘certain age'”. What I really mean is old people. You know, if I was an old person, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say “Old people”. Old people just say it like it is. They are unencumbered.
Old people can have a reputation for being blunt. Maybe they’ve earned it. I heard one guy say, “I don’t have time to beat around the bush any more.”
Now, I don’t want to offend anyone or hurt their feelings. I value my relationships with people. Even people I don’t know. I don’t mind being encumbered by a desire to be kind and sensitive just for the sake of being candid. But still….it would be kind of nice to be that unencumbered. A relief maybe. I wonder what I’ll say.
A little “cumber” may be a good thing.
Maybe I’ll start by shooting for less-encumbered.