WILSON: Challenges of pandemic retirement

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 6, 2021

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As previously noted, I have taken on a new challenge; a lifestyle shift of all-encompassing proportions. I retired. Also, as previously noted, since it happened smack-dab in the middle of the largest lifestyle shift most of us have ever experienced (that pesky, little, “dangdemic” thingy) while everyone was already just sitting around “doing our part” by doing relatively nothing at all, I really didn’t notice when my retirement finally snuck up on me.

One noticeable difference was one month my paycheck was direct deposited by my employer, and the next month it was direct deposited by Social Security (at about one-third the previous month’s “contribution” – I definitely noticed that).

However, the most important difference was being able to concentrate on important projects, without interference from the time-consuming requirements of earning a paycheck. Please don’t get me wrong, I liked my job – the best gig I ever had. My career led me down many paths, opened several doors, and introduced me to interesting people and places I may never have known. I do not regret a minute of it.

However, the obligations of being a responsible person kept teaming up with the voices of logic and reason occupying the shallower edges of my psyche. Together, they constantly shouted down and suppressed the voices trying to break free from the creative side of my brain. Thankfully, the creative side can be tenacious. It kept biding its time, ignoring logic, reasoning and the advancement of age. I am happy to report, the creative side finally won the argument. Ahhhhhhh.

However, retirement is not just about pursuing passions, exploring life’s what-ifs, and checking off items on a bucket list. Sometimes, it is just lounging around and doing as much of nothing-at-all as possible. One of the consequences of anyone waiting out the “dangdemic,” retired or not, was to eventually spend a lost afternoon or evening (maybe both) binge-watching reruns of 1980s sitcoms. I, too, succumbed to such a fate. It made me want to go back to the office and put in a 60-hour work-week.

I could feel the creative side of my brain starting to wither — the precious, oft-neglected and newly-emerging creative side – the side I had waited so long to nourish was starting to fade. It was painful — and yet, I kept doing it. Hour after hour, I watched television shows I couldn’t stand in the ‘80s — and I wasn’t even in an altered-state frame of mind! I have read that we only use about 10 percent of our brain cells, and the rest is just packing peanuts.

I, like so many other “Dangdemic” sufferers, was being drawn into the “Dangdemic Vortex” — a mind-numbing state of existence, where the other 90 percent of our brain cells (the packing peanuts part) takes over.

The “Dangdemic Vortex” is very real and can have a crippling impact — as evidenced by the type of commercial sponsors of the aforementioned binge-watchable programming. It is a Big-Pharma induced calamity, curable by any number of today’s sponsors: Sunosi for sleep apnea, along with Jardiance, Trulicity and Ozempic for diabetes (not to mention the FreeStyle Libre 2 diabetes test monitor), Emgality for migraine headaches (probably brought on by binge-watching), Skyrizi for plaque psoriasis, Xeljanz for rheumatoid arthritis, Entresto for heart health (try turning off the TV, get off your butt, and take a walk), Prolia for strengthening bones in old-folks like me, and Cologuard — a colon cancer test requiring folks to package up a stool sample and send it off in the mail (there was a time when that was considered a Federal offense).

Next came commercials for law firms handling class-action lawsuits against the aforementioned Big-Pharma folks. Then came commercials for over-the-counter drugs for constipation, diarrhea, and hair loss (in that order). All of these products were sponsors during one program series — seriously — just one. I was a mess I was acutely aware of every ache, pain, sniffle and unexpected burst of flatulence.

The only way to break free of my malaise was to switch over to the news. That shocked me back to reality (a state of being I am beginning to dislike). With my blood pressure soaring and my attitude plummeting, I abandoned the world of reruns and returned to my Fortress of Solitude.

I walked out into my shop, brushed the remnants of my previous project from my table saw, and started making man-glitter (sawdust) all over, again. Ahhhhhhh…retirement done right.