My Son, Henry, #76. Attending his games not only keeps me busy, but it is fulfilling in many ways.

OK, I’ve been busy.  Traveling for high school football games, fishing, kid’s dental appointments, you name it.  I’ve been neglecting this blog a little.  For a while I was posting every third day or so.  Now I’m threatening to go weekly.  Not good!  Unfortunately, the muse hasn’t come to visit in the last week or so.  I’m kind of looking for something to spark my imagination.

Thankfully, WordPress provides me with incoming search terms.  several caught my eye like, “retired and so bored no skills or interests.”  On the same day I got another search for “bored in retirement,” and another, “list of things to do when retired.”  Wow, that’s just one day!  I get lots of bored in retirement related searches that find my blog.

I know boredom is a problem for retirees.  Some of it, I think, comes from the sudden lack of things to do.  One day you’re at work, up to you eyeballs in paperwork or widget orders, then the next you’re sitting at home staring at the walls.  It’s a drastic change for many folks and if you’re not ready it can be, well boring.  It takes a while to wind down and learn to enjoy the slower pace.

But what about after that?  After a year you’ve completed all the honey-dos, played a lot of golf, scrap-booked all those family photos.  Now what?  Well, I am coming to the conclusion that you need more than just activities to be fulfilled.  Retirement isn’t a vacation and you can’t spend all those years or decades like you’re on one.  I believe the key is doing stuff that has meaning.

Meaning?  Lofty term.  Sounds slightly touchy-feely.  I’m not big on deeper meaning stuff, myself.  I don’t have to live in Rwanda and build schools and dig wells to feel fulfilled.  Nothing wrong with that, but most people aren’t looking for anything quite that meaningful.  Just feeling your life and the things you do have meaning to yourself is enough.

Fishing and photography also have meaning to me and for a variety of reasons. Challenges, learning, solitude, plus I can smoke and drink. Not sure those have meaning, but not everything has to.

For instance, I’ve taken up astronomy.  I don’t just drag my telescope out on the deck and look at stars.  I try to learn something about the things I observe, I record my observations and I’ve even begun to take an interest in astrophotography.  That has led to a new interest in making time lapse movies.  I guess the point is, it’s about more than just doing the activity.  It’s about learning something new and that brings meaning.

Meaning doesn’t have to be learning either.  It can be the satisfaction of helping others, the pride in obtaining a level of proficiency few others achieve or maybe its sharing your ideas and thoughts with others.  Whatever it is, it’s the meaning that makes the activity worthwhile and helps a simple activity transcend simply being a way to fill your day.

Work had meaning, right?  I mean, they were paying you.  That allowed you to raise a family, build a home, save for retirement.  Meaning.  You probably felt you’re job was important.  You were making or selling good or providing services.  You were contributing to society, you were supporting yourself, you were building a life.  Maybe you weren’t curing cancer or sending men to the moon, but work had value, both to society and to yourself.

Retirement is no different.  It should have meaning too.   The only difference is that retirement is a little more self-oriented.  Its more about you than serving the needs of society, though much of what we do ends up doing just that whether we intend it or not.  You can do things just for the sake of doing things, for pure self-interest, to learn and grow personally, to express yourself in your own way, whatever.  It’s about you.

So, maybe you aren’t bored so much as your life and activities lack meaning now.  The opposite of bored isn’t busy or active, its interested or excited.  Those feelings come from being engaged in things that have meaning for you.  Stop trying to fill your life with “interesting” activities and find those things that excite you, that bring meaning to you.  It might take a little trial and error, but that can be fun too.  In the long run, I bet the boredom goes away.