A few of my friends and I met for lunch recently.  Some are now retired and enjoy what they smilingly refer to as a “stress-free life.”  Retirement must work for people!  Most retired folks appear to reverse their aging process, looking younger and more fit!  These informed sources also advise us that they feel liberated, no longer beholden to that ubiquitous, constantly buzzing, attention-craving, demanding appendage commonly called mobile, cellphone, iPhone, Blackberry or whatever.  Us lesser mortals who are still plodding our way towards a life beyond the workplace cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to cast away this instrument that has enslaved our global population.

We broke bread together and caught up on news about our families, the “daily routine of retirees” featuring yoga, meditation, gym, exercise regimen, recreational activities and cruises etc.  “How do you manage your finances?” asked one, “Is the pension supplemented by other income?”  “It is so difficult” quipped another not yet retired colleague, “to determine how to save enough for our future needs.  Kids’ education, paying off the mortgage, vacations and the odd extravagances – it’s all very stressful.”  Ignoramuses like me sought the advice of our more astute friends about managing money and investments.  Tips were provided on stocks, ETFs and other investments that could provide capital gains or dividend income, according to one’s preferences for future wealth accretion.  Some appear to be doing better than others, but it is gratifying that each is enjoying life according to his/her expectations of “retired” life.

An expression that I had read somewhere earlier, now came to mind “Only when you have an expectation, are you likely to be disappointed.”

One of my friends who had joined us for lunch fortuitously forwarded an article to me the next day in which the journalist, Ian McGugan had quoted research pointing out that, “The wealthiest 20 per cent of retirees tend to spend only about twice as much as the poorest 20 per cent of retirees – the ones surviving on government stipends…”  It is interesting, contrary to the generally held views about the lifestyles of the “rich and famous” that not a lot is required to satisfy basic human needs.

A friend had recently lent me “Travels with Epicurus” by Daniel Klein.  I had enjoyed it so much that I eventually bought my own copy.  I came back home and immediately retrieved it to reread and dwell on this eloquent thought it contains, “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.”  Just think about how we let our mind create such self-defeating thoughts.

Satisfaction.  Contentment.  Happiness.  Where do we start and when do we end?  How much is enough?  Does one Need or Want?  The answers lie within us.  Only we can manage our own expectations.  No one else either wants to know, or cares.

The eloquent shaayar (poet) Mirza Ghalib had philosophized:

“Hazaaron khvaahishen aisi ke har khvaahish pe dum nikle

Bahut nikle mere armaan lekin phir bhi kum nikle”

[Thousands of desires, such that each one takes the breath away (is worth dying for)

A lot of my desires/longings came out (were fulfilled) but still I yearn for more]

3 Replies to “Expectations”

  1. My friend and I agree that we are now at the stage in our lives when we need to implement some of the countless Want vs Need lectures we have subjected our respective offspring to. Take stock of our earthly possessions with a view to divesting some. But if one is aiming for this simplicity, how does one respond to an exhibition of hand-made quilts? Only too aware of my prized Jaipur razais that sit in the closet waiting for special guests, I was upfront with the ladies at the show. I was there just to browse, I didn’t have room for more quilts. And I was happy to report back to my friend that they were pleased to share the stories behind their exquisite handiwork. I emerged richer for the experience – sans quilts. But while I was humming

    Thoda hai, thode ki zaroorat hai,
    Zindagi phir bhi yahan khoobsoorat hai,

    I thought of A and F, our neighbours in their 80s, who recently “downsized”. Downsized within quotes because the exercise involved a new deck and a new kitchen in their new home. They are not profligate by any reckoning, but continue to host large groups of friends from their church and felt the need for both. Should I live to see 80, would I need a new kitchen? Possibly not. But wouldn’t it be nice to have one if I really, really wanted one? So back to crunching numbers!


  2. Raised on the exhortation, “Don’t be content with what you have! Strive for more!” one spends a lifetime pursuing goals. In fullness of time, retirement arrives and one isn’t realistically able to “strive for more”, And there’s no option but to be “content with what you have”. We humans must like this story a lot…every generation repeats it.


    1. Thanks, Easwar and Shagorika. As always, your comments provide abundant food for thought.

      I can but parrot Jigar Moradabadi’s lines:

      “jhuuTii hai har ek masarrat
      ruuh agar taskiin na paaye”

      [Happiness is a deception
      If the soul/life is not content]



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