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Column: Even unopened books can offer true insights on life


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One of the best reasons to be married to someone who likes to read as much as you do is that you wind up acquainted with many more books and articles than just the ones you read on your own.

“Listen to this,” I will interrupt as Becky sits in her chair absorbed in her own thing. I will then read a passage or a sentence, a short phrase or even a particularly cool word I have come across. Or I will read to her some opinion piece that validates what I believe and then say triumphantly, “See, the perils of Big Government.”

Becky shares her readings with me, as well. I always find her comments interesting and/or thought-provoking. I think she finishes more books than I do because I get antsy about midway through while she usually sticks with a book to the end.

I’m glad she does. Because of her, I feel like I can claim to have read some books that I have in fact never cracked open. The latest book she has been sharing with me is a retirement gift.

My wife’s first day of retirement was last week. As I wrote the preceding sentence, I had the feeling I had written something similar before; and in fact, I had. Becky retired the first time nearly 12 months ago.

That lasted only seven weeks before she was asked to fill a position. She took it assuming it was a temporary position, but it stretched from August to July. I wrote about her first retirement a year ago, and now here we are at what I like to call “Retirement 2.0.”

The retirement gift book is titled “Don’t Retire, Rewire!” written by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners. The authors are married to each other, but it is not clear from the book jacket if they are actually retired. It doesn’t matter, I guess. Their advice seems reasonable; and as someone who has been retired for three years now, I can relate to much of what the book says. Or rather, what Becky tells me the book says.

I have gained much insight from this book I have not read. The authors observe that many people “flunk retirement” because they don’t think it through. They think retirement will work itself out. For some people it does, but for others retirement will take at least some planning.

One of the key elements in a successful retirement is having something to do. A retirement based on leisurely rest and recreation will probably not be satisfying.

As we share our readings with each other, it only makes sense that we tend to gravitate toward particular items to which we relate personally. Becky was struck by an observation that we tend to develop rituals that become part of our work life.

Before she retried the first time, Becky listened to NPR every morning during her half-hour drive to work. She realized she sort of misses that. That reminded me of my morning ritual of stopping at the Franklin Starbucks on my way to teach school. I admit I sort of missed that, too.

The book has several surveys I haven’t technically taken. However, I am familiar with many of the questions.

One survey asks: How much of your social life is bound up in your work world and how will you compensate for that? Have you considered whether you will miss your title? Will your spouse miss your title? Another survey helps the reader discover his or her “drivers,” the things that motivate, give satisfaction and fulfillment. Knowing these drivers helps give direction to the course the retiree’s new life might take.

I’m not sure I would make it through the entire book, so I am glad Becky is sharing it with me. I am getting new insights that I may find of use as I tweak my retirement. Also, because she has shared so much, I will have another book I haven’t read under my belt.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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