Stone Masons Retire 3

Stonemasons Retire III (a Few Years Later)

This continuing story is about maintaining the same mindsets when entering the retiring phase of life.  None of our workers looked around to seek or understand the changes they were facing. Of course, these scenarios are fiction and can take unlimited different pathways.  Each of the pathways of our characters is not to be considered “typical”; although there is enough evidence to suggest that, without self-awareness and change, these pathways are possible. The purpose of these stories is to stimulate thought, reflection, and consideration of how we may embrace our new futures. We are not saying that each of the workers necessarily follows the paths that are described.  The pathways are open to anyone.

We’re finding that two to three years after retiring the initial excitement of retirement often begins to wane.  Relationships can change, and travel* can start losing its luster as it absorbs considerable energy and money.


John, who couldn’t wait to leave his job and retire, thought an ideal retirement was to not work.  He had not planned alternate activities and was getting bored. It was stressful at home because he and his wife had not discussed retirement, and he had invaded her “space” by being home all the time.  The combination of inactivity, boredom, domestic stress, and social isolation was taking a toll on his health.  Declining health can be expensive monetarily because of the high cost of medications and visits to a physician, and it can sap the ability and energy to have fun.  He was gaining weight and his joints were deteriorating and he was facing knee replacements.  Life was not as much fun as he had envisioned, so the flashing lights, bells, comfortable seats, and free drinks at the casino became an increasingly welcome diversion.

Carl, who pursued his career until “full retirement age”, thought an ideal retirement was playing and being busy. Now he and his wife were living their dream of touring the world and having fun. While travelling, he and his wife made friends easily, exchanged contact information, and talked about “getting together again.”  Somehow those contacts seldom went beyond the transitory friendships. Each trip brought the fun and excitement of new travel companions with a similar result of fleeting friendships.  There were thousands of photographs which friends and family politely viewed, and he spent hours and hours sorting them.  He was in reasonably good health because of his activities that included golf which provided moderate exercise and socializing.  The regular condo association events with his spouse kept them socially connected and created structure to their weeks with regularly occurring activities that they could look forward to.  He was having fun, but something was missing.

Paul, continuing to pursue his passion years after seemingly everyone else retired, was still at it, chiseling granite and creating finely detailed figures for his house of God. It didn’t bother him that he had nothing else to do, because he loved his contribution to creating this magnificent cathedral majestically rising above the countryside.  He was held in high regard by the community and was being looked upon as an example of excellence and persistence. Though a modest man, Paul couldn’t help but feel pride for his work and stature, and this feeling not only propelled him forward, but also allowed him to focus on nothing else. He found himself saying more and more frequently, “I’m never going to retire.”


*Travel is the most frequently mentioned leisure interest in retirement.  Roadburg, Life After Dentistry p.69


Neil S. Hiltunen, D.M.D., F.A.G.D.

President, Association of Retiring Dentists

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