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Is this all there is?

(162 Posts)
isthisallthereis Thu 11-Oct-12 11:44:16

Here I am, retired. What happens next?

Yes I have volunteered since retiring, and I felt valued. But my knee is playing up, I'm waiting for an operation and I've had to un-volunteer! Shame, I used to value being dependable.

Similarly, I was energetic, known for it. Now I'm not.

I've formed a very happy relationship (entirely non-platonic I'm glad to say) with a great partner. We don't live together. We have a life together and lives apart. It's great.

We go to the cinema a lot, sometimes the theatre, often to live music and to exhibitions. That's fine, but are we just going to be passive consumers of culture for the next 30 years(-ish)? I used to be an active creator of culture professionally. And no I don't want to go on doing that in a lesser way. And Yes I have done a lot of teaching in the past and passing-on of my skills.

I don't have grandchildren, my SO does. That's OK, but it's not a life. For either of us.

Hobbies, I have lots of them. Gardening suddenly seems self-absorbed, selfish and very short-term, bit like running up a hill of sand, you're always sliding backwards, trying to tame the weeds etc etc. Gym, cycling, swimming, hill-walking, love them, all out with a dodgy knee. Yes I could do sit-ups. My main hobby now seems to be decluttering my house, sorting papers etc. That'll end.

I have friends, separate from my SO's friends. I see them often. It's OK.

The CofE Alpha Courses used to have Is This All There Is as their slogan, I think. I have a faith, a Christian faith and I go to Church. That's good.

I've been in psychotherapy often in my life and I am again now. But the therapist is not there to give me answers. Perhaps to help me find answers. Eventually.

Obviously I've chosen a fairly negative username but I'm not depressed, I'm more quizzical / puzzled, ie Is This All There Is? I have been seriously depressed in the past and it didn't feel like this smile

Advice? Please. Someone else must have felt like this. Or be feeling like this.

Mamie Thu 11-Oct-12 11:54:12

I think this is a really interesting question. Of, course there are lots of people who say they have never been busier and are entirely fulfilled in retirement, but I have found it hard. I love spending time with my grandchildren, but I wouldn't build my life around them. I have hobbies, interests and friends, but I do have "what am I for" moments.

isthisallthereis Thu 11-Oct-12 12:04:31

Thank you, Mamie. It's helpful to know I'm not the only one!

Daman Thu 11-Oct-12 12:18:07

I have been retired 20yrs and every now and again I ask 'Is this all there is?'

The other day my daughter said: "Look father, we are born and we die, and all we can do is fill the space between, by doing things we enjoy.

Build a model railway, teach meditation, grow sweetpeas, help others be ok with their lives, read William Hazlitt, whatever. Just fill the space feeling good inside. It can be done."

I do these things. I am mostly happy.

Butternut Thu 11-Oct-12 12:29:44

isthis - It sounds to me as if you're struggling to find a sense of purpose in your life, that will now accommodate your existing circumstances. I have no solution to offer, I'm afraid.
If you've just retired, then it will take some getting use too, as you're clearly well aware. How about desisting from chasing expectations, and let go for a while.
I've had moments of 'what if this is all there is' - but came to conclusion 'so what' - my life is certainly good enough for the moment and that kind of takes the pressure off. sunshine

You've joined GN for a start! wink

MiceElf Thu 11-Oct-12 12:34:19

Isthis, I'm sure we've all felt like this from time to time. Partly I think it hits retired people who have had productive busy and possibly powerfully influential lives the most. Our lives are so defined in many ways by our work, these days that often we forget how to achieve a balance. I also think that it must be very, very difficult to be in pain, endure restricted mobility and thus not even able to do the volunteer work you chose. However, perhaps you could look ahead to when your health is restored and make plans for that. You say you are a member of a church, perhaps there are possibilities there for you to begin some new initiatives which will utilise your talents. You say you were a creator of culture professionally. You don't elaborate on this but if it was the theatre or music there will be very valuable work you could do. Even if you have to put this on hold for the moment you could plan for it. Have you considered one to one tutoring in your specialism? That's very rewarding as you have volunteers not conscripts. Or what about looking at being a trustee for a charity?

It's a huge adjustment, I know, but clearly you have lots of skills and talents and you are not short of social contacts, so things will improve I hope. Just look forward to the new knee!

wisewoman Thu 11-Oct-12 15:51:22

Hi Isthis
I am glad to know that I am not the only one who has moments of "what am I for?" at various stages in my life. I am certainly busy in retirement with voluntary work, grandchildren and studying but still do have these weird moments. I agree it is not depression, just a kind of existential questioning. I don't think there are any answers - we just have to live with it. I often wonder if it is specifically women who feel this way as we are expected to have caring roles, fulfill them wholeheartedly and then relinquish them when we are no longer needed! Anyway I hope you find what nourishes you and that your health improves so that you can get on with life.

goldengirl Thu 11-Oct-12 17:31:07

You are definitely not the only one Isthis... My life is full - I hurtle from one week into the next with activities of one sort or another; some inflicted, some chosen to the extent I sometimes feel guilty when I take time just to sit and do nothing 'of value'. I'm conscious of getting older and trying to make the most within my limitations of what life I have left. I do make a rod for my own back and sometimes I'm too conscientious. Striking a happy medium can be hard. But I too wonder occasionally why am I doing what I do? To feel valued? To keep my brain active? It's perhaps because we're going through a certain stage of our lives - a time of adjustment.

Greatnan Thu 11-Oct-12 18:12:34

I never feel like this. I never ask myself what I am here for, because I don't think there is any reason or purpose, except what we make for ourselves.
I am perfectly happy in my retirement, never bored, and count myself very fortunate to have good health and enough income to pursue my hobbies.

crimson Thu 11-Oct-12 18:43:42

isthis; I can't retire yet, and my life seems to be nothing but work and maintaining my house. And I'm trying to get on top of paperwork etc. And my knee is, as the consultant said a few years ago 'considerably older than the rest of me'. And that is now my 'good' knee. We go to the cinema and the theatre a lot so our life is similar to yours. However, I think the root cause of how you feel is your knee and loss of mobility. I bet you're not getting out and about as much as you used to [or, like me, put off doing so because it make you more aware of what you can no longer do]. Touch of 'sad syndrome' because of it as well maybe? Sort the knee out and everything else may fall into shape, perhaps? I hope so. Bit of a shock when the body starts to let you down. I was always so fit and healthy; can't believe how I feel now. Bet you can't either.

Mamie Thu 11-Oct-12 19:12:43

I think it is fine to be puzzled, to question, to be bored, to seek to understand change. I have a lovely home, a DH of forty plus years, wonderful children and grandchildren. I do count my blessings, but I still question how I can do things better, how I will deal with the years to come. I think that is just the human condition.

Butternut Thu 11-Oct-12 19:20:15

Mamie Nicely put.

LaGrandeDuchesse Thu 11-Oct-12 19:31:43

Is this all there is?

Great question, I'm glad it's not just me that is a bit wondering? disgruntled?

I think to myself, wow, there are all these retirees and non working people like me. Gardening, hobbies, GCs, volunteering but if we all put our spare time and efforts together surely we could achieve something really exciting and important and really make a difference. But I doubt it's going to happen. Everyone seems to be happy pottering until the Care Home calls.

Not meaning this as a criticism, more an observation. And accept that I am free to achieve wonderful things if I choose to make the effort (and can think of something within my abilities that needs doing!)

angiebaby Thu 11-Oct-12 19:41:23

isthisall thereis,,,,,,,,,join a choir there is a rock group choir look for it on line,,great fun,,,,,,do you go swimming,,,yes i have bee there i always think about dying ,,how long have i got i thank the lord when i get up for opening my eyes,,,advertise for a lady freind in the paper,,,i have been depressed,,,i have lost my mum and dad,,,the depression lasted 2 years,,,i was always down a black hole,,,but i joined flower arranging,,,joined sugarcraft club,,,,i make cupcakes sell them at fetes,,,i go into london and nose around on my own,,,,i did nursing privately,,live in an elderly persons home with them and get paid for it all exspenses paid....look at caring agencys,,,,you are needed somewhere dont feel down be strong, somone somewhere is feeling worse than you,,,your alive,,,take care i will always chat, big hug,,,angiebaby

janeainsworth Thu 11-Oct-12 19:51:00

I don't think it's specific to women, my DH often makes himself miserable wondering what the rest of his life is for, whereas I share greatnan's view of life, and just hand him a list of jobs.
The mother of one of my friends liked to say 'Enjoy every minute, it will never come again'.

NfkDumpling Thu 11-Oct-12 20:27:00

I have a bad knees, a dodgy back and a grumbling hip. Walking is not the pleasure it used to be and, although I enjoy pottering in the garden digging the veggie plot means popping the pain killers before, during and after.

But, I've found that there is plenty of useful stuff we can do. Just because it's not paid doesn't mean it's worthless. So many organisations would collapse without the contribution made by the army of the retired. Where would many working mums be without grandparent aid or the elderly infirm without their getting on a bit offspring? Charity shops wouldn't exist. Town councillors, school governors, magistrates are often retired people as they have more time to give.

I'm now on a couple of committees (not much physical there), volunteer for the National Trust (get to sit in a beautiful room for an afternoon once a week and meet some lovely people) this pays expenses so is cost neutral, and somehow found myself involved in other stuff locally because I didn't step back quick enough!

Have a look at the list is endless and caters for all abilities and degrees of enthusiasm. Get involved and you can make a difference.

jeni Thu 11-Oct-12 21:19:03

I'm rather crocked up and can't do much physically!
I'm almost 68 I'm still working .
I dread what happens in 4 years time when I have to retire and therefore won't be able to cruise any more!
I don't want to do volunteer work and I don't think any organisation that I would consider could tolerate me!
I only consider the future when I'm down, like today after a day working in Cardiff! Why is a wet day in the arse end of Cardiff so demoralising. There weren't even any coffee making facilitiesangry
That's the last time I go to that court! Also, it took 2hours travel to get there! Starting out at 07 15!

Grannylin Thu 11-Oct-12 21:35:35

Since retiring, I have travelled extensively,volunteered, been running, swimming, taken up languages, watercolours etc etc and still asked myself your question. Stay around on Gransnet and you will learn about some extraordinary women.I have stopped my navel gazing.Live in the moment and enjoy it smile

Ella46 Thu 11-Oct-12 21:45:02

If I do nothing else in my life,which I probably won't, I have brought forth two wonderful children, who in turn have produced 3 beautiful girls.
I consider that a great achievement, and I now intend to enjoy doing very little, whenever I feel like it!

NfkDumpling Thu 11-Oct-12 21:59:29

Good for you Ella. That's the wonderful thing about retirement, being able to have more time to do whatever you wish be it demanding or sweet f*.

NfkDumpling Thu 11-Oct-12 22:00:41

Jeni could you be a phantom shopper testing disabled facilities on cruise ships?

Nanban Thu 11-Oct-12 22:29:19

These feelings aren't confined to the retired - people of any age have times when the purpose of it all is questioned and questionable. Accept what you have, do the best with it you can, enjoy what you can and it'll pass. Your questioning just shows what a thoughtful person you are.

jeni Thu 11-Oct-12 22:48:52

I already do that. And make complaints! I've been on the same princess ship three times and made the same complaint and nothing has happened!

Bags Fri 12-Oct-12 07:34:40

Here's a nice one:

“In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in his cosmic loneliness.

And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat, looked around, and spoke. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

"Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

"Certainly," said man.

"Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

And He went away.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

Bags Fri 12-Oct-12 07:37:34

I found that here where there are lots more sound bites.