We recently visited some fellow retirees. We made a shocking discovery about how they used their retirement time or some of it at least. I will tell you now and you may be the judge. They read in bed in the morning. This is the second set of friends who have ‘confessed’ to this retirement activity. The headline with the photo right said ‘Reading in bed is dangerous’. I agree. Personally I always thought the morning version was a step along the road to hellfire and damnation (as well as falling back to sleep and sleeping late is surely on the road to hell) but both these couples are intelligent people so maybe I’ve got it wrong. Here we are in our Third Age trying to get a balance in our lives and I seem incapable to finding this state of balance and, dare I say it again, well-being.
In the end it all comes down to how purposeful you need to feel in retirement. I seem to have a great need to feel that I am doing, what’s the word? Important things, things of significance? Not quite the right words, it’s something to do with feeling that you are using at least a part of your retirement years well, whatever that means. I have been intending to write a blog about the idea of having fun in retirement and, you could argue, that reading in bed comes into this category. I’ve put the fun blog on the back burner because I found it too difficult to define what fun is. It’s much easier to describe what it isn’t, what constitutes misery in retirement. No money, no friends, no activities, but the opposite of these do not, in my mind at least, make for a fun retirement. So I stopped writing about fun and turned to this blog on why it seems sinful to read in bed in a morning (nothing wrong with reading before you go to bed of course, this is as God intended it should be).
So why do I have this fear of turning into a person who reads in bed in the morning? Well, I’m not entirely sure. So I tried it this morning – reading in bed that is. I continued reading a new book I received yesterday and started last night. It’s a non-fiction book about playing jazz, called Effortless Mastery by Kenny Lerner. It was supposed to be a Christmas present but I just couldn’t wait and surely one of the fun things a person could do, not that I’m writing about fun, but if I was this would be there, is not waiting until Christmas day to open presents that have arrived early. It promises to be an interesting book about playing improvised jazz and I will no doubt write further about it in a later jazz blog. For now it is simply the book that I chose to see how I felt about reading in bed in a morning. My reasoning for choosing this book, apart from the fact it was there, was that, as it was a non-fiction book, it wasn’t that much fun, a bit hard going in some ways, so it was not too Satanic to be reading it. You might call it a slight dabble with the dark side, like watching a séance but not actually taking part. But sure enough, I hadn’t read more than a couple of pages before I felt my eyelids begin to droop and the forces of evil tugging at the duvet. So I got out of bed and started to write this blog as a kind of penance.
By now you are probably getting an idea of just how much this retirement business has pulled me out of shape. What’s the big deal you’re probably saying about reading in bed in the morning? Well, it’s a symbol, you see, of all that could be bad about retirement. It’s in the same category as not shaving, not showering, not worrying about whether the top (of your clothes) matches with the bottom. If you’re a woman you can probably get away without not doing the first but that’s it otherwise we’re all in it together. Lack of care with personal hygiene which, in turn, goes hand in hand with day-time TV and buying the Daily Mail and not cutting your toe nails. OK, you get the idea.
Still I have to ask myself what is this obsession with being useful, doing the ‘right things’ in retirement? The other day I even thought about offering my services voluntarily to a school, what madness is this. I worked in schools, in one form or another, for over 40 years, now I retire and, in an effort to feel useful, I think about going back. Madness, madness I tell you. I need to take a serious look at my own blog on faulty thinking because I’m pretty certain there’s quite a lot of that going on in my retirement head. You’ve been useful for over 40 years, now give it up and relax and be useless. Who the hell are you trying to prove your worth to? Yourself? Don’t be silly. I don’t think anybody else worries about whether I am useful or not. It’s just me then. It’s that bloody self-esteem thing again.
OK, enough of all this soul-searching and I’m only going into it now to explain why I feel that reading in bed in the morning is the road to hell, paved with good intentions or not. I guess there are a lot of you out there relaxing and thoroughly enjoying your retirement and not giving a figgy pudding about whether you are useful or not and whether reading in bed is a sin or a pleasure. I must get back to my having fun in retirement blog. I need to give this area some serious and sensible thought. Did I know retirement was going to be like this? Probably, I’ve always been inclined to introspection. It’s why I write such insightful blogs, I think.