Lessons from the retired

JAGDESH SINGH ponders about life after retirement and how does one prepare for it. 

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By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION |

It wasn’t even the weekend but it was the school holidays. I had taken a few days off to finish my vacation days from the company I work for. I got up late, the sun had already blazed through my room windows, and everyone else in the house were still asleep. It took a while to stir everybody up, the easiest being my youngest daughter, the toughest being my eldest teenage daughter.

But the feeling I had that morning was of mild despondence. Waking up late and not being productive in any way was somewhat causing an unsatisfactory feeling in my being. This was a new feeling for me. I’ve always cherished getting a break from the monotonous daily rush and tumble of the rat race. I’ve always loved getting that extra hour in bed during the weekend. Yet, this strange new feeling made me think “What the hell’s wrong with me?”

As I thought about it, I then realized why the old and the wise had always encouraged us all to be up early in the morning. They’ve always encouraged to start the day with meditation and prayers before the sun rises. And then go about with our daily work. Having start the day this way would at least give me a sense of being productive. Even if it’s for my own wellbeing and not contributing to anybody else yet. It makes sense to me.

But what about the rest of the day if there’s nothing to do? Some might say there’s always something to do, especially if you’ve got interests and hobbies outside of your daily work environment. I suppose that’s true. There’s always something to be done, it’s whether you’d want to or feel like doing. Which is why starting the day feeling productive would jumpstart your day to continue that feeling of being productive. Good feelings beget good feelings. Well, at least for most of the days in our lives. That’s why we sometimes say: “I’ve been in a good mood all day.” The opposite is also true.

This brings me to my next thought. Is this how retirement from our work going to be like every single day? It is, isn’t it? Which means, apart from starting the day productively, I’ve got to figure out how to keep feeling productive.

The closest example that I know is, of course, my dear father. Observing his lifestyle tells me quite a bit what to look out for in my retirement.

Firstly, he’s financially quite self-sufficient. No doubt, if he somehow loses this, he’s got a couple of his offsprings to help him out. And so my dad retired from his government post peacefully. With my departed mom no more in the house, my dad has the compounding challenge of battling the vacuum of loneliness between the four walls of his home. So, how does he live life throughout the day?

He’s up before dawn. He meditates for peace of mind. He then goes to exercise before breakfast, practicing Qigong, an ancient Chinese exercise. He has somehow socialised with Qigong community and are friends with many of them. He has learned to cook, the better he gets the more exotic his dishes get. He volunteers with societies like the Lions Club and the Freemasons. He’s always in the Gurudwara, reciting verses from the Guru Granth Sahib for the local sanggat whenever the occasion asks of him. Last but not least, he dotes on his youngest grandchild every time he finds his way to my home.

To sum it up, even before retirement, my dear father invested time and energy in widening his social circles with the societies he joined and the Gurudwara. And he’s maintained hobbies like cooking to a simmering passion. And he keeps his sense of purpose by actively maintaining his roles as a grandfather, father, brother, uncle, treasurer for his society, wise old man at the Gurudwara.

Above all, he starts his day very early feeling good about himself with meditation and prayers. I think it’s about time I start aspiring these practices now in my life.

 

Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

 

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