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]