Do it now

When I was young, I anticipated that later life, and old age, would bring with it peace, financial security, and well-being. My car insurance premiums would be ridiculously low, and I would have enough money to travel anywhere I wanted to go. Worries would be behind me, work a distant memory, and free time would stretch out ahead of me, just waiting to be enjoyed.

Next birthday, I will be 61 years old. That means that if I live for nineteen more years after that, I will be eighty. There may have been a time when nineteen years seemed like a lifetime. Perhaps when I was still a teenager, and could not imagine life as a 38-year old, I don’t specifically recall. What I do know for sure now, is that nineteen years seems like a very short time indeed. Although we are ‘comfortable’ financially (whatever that really means), I certainly cannot afford to travel. My insurance premiums did go down, though only because I left London. Otherwise, they are still pretty hefty. I live a more peaceful life, but cannot say for sure that I am ‘at peace’.

As for well-being, who knows? Physically, I can see deterioration, in strength, eyesight, and energy. Mentally, I feel the need to push myself to feel better, hence this blog. Work is a memory, though far from distant, and the cumulative affects of 33 years of shift-work are beginning to surface. As for free time, it no longer seems to be stretching far ahead, rather rushing by, like a fast train viewed from a platform.

I find it hard to believe that I actually prepared for this. I saved money, paid into pension funds, and both myself and Julie invested in property, so that we could sell it later, and live free of debt. This all worked of course, and provided the life we live today. A life that I am not complaining about, as others live much harder lives than we do.

It is all far too late though. History and fate will not be outdone; prices always go up, never down, and old age never retreats. I should have done it all back then, whenever ‘then’ was. When I could have just ‘gone’, and it would have had no consequences. There was absolutely no point in preparing to live the nineteen years, until I reach 80, a prospect which is highly unlikely anyway.

Sure, I did some stuff. I went to China, cruised the Nile, visited most of the former Soviet Union, and a fair part of Eastern Europe. I watched a lot of films, collected cameras, and saw lots of castles, and museums. But did I live enough? I never will now, that’s for sure.

So, this is my best advice, aged 60, and in a very contemplative frame of mind.

Do it now. You really won’t regret it.

46 thoughts on “Do it now

  1. Does anyone ever feel like they have lived enough? My dad has the kind of retirement you dreamed of after squirrelling away all his money his whole life but he has regrets that we never did much as a family when I was growing up because his core focus was retirement. Mr O sacked off university to go on tour with his band. He followed his dream, it bombed and now he regrets never studying further or having more of a career…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, great post Pete. I’m 32 and still feel 17. Time seems to be hurtling past fast than I ever thought it would. Last year I did exactly what you recommend, I booked the trip of a lifetime to Australia and spent a month doing all the things I said I’d do when I was 18. If I could have borrowed more money and booked more time off of work I’d have gone for longer. I rationalised the debt to myself by thinking that if I was hit by a bus tomorrow I wouldn’t regret it. Despite living on a lot of beans on toast, and not living slightly more comfortably ever since (Hello very modest salaries, thanks 2008 for your economic treat, we’re not comfortable earners…yet! She says with hope and perhaps a little frustration!), I do not regret it. If anything happened to my partner, nothing can take those memories that I have with him away.
    My only dissatisfaction is not being able to do more of it. I’m grateful for what I have experienced but the nagging feeling that I should be doing more frequently circles my conscious.

    Pete, all I can say is be thankful for what you have done and be present. The past is just that and by the sounds of it you’ve got plenty of spirit and savvy to seize the opportunities now. Have you checked out skyscanner and air bnb? Getting something booked in will help immensely.

    My favourite quote might help too, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’! Good luck with your travels.

    Best wishes,

    Bex

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much, Rebecca. I am happy to hear that you are doing what you can, and not worrying too much about what will happen in 40 years time. I did do quite a lot, more than most in fact. However, I had the crazy idea that ‘preparation for retirement’ would mean I could do so much more once I was 60. That didn’t happen, and never will now.
      I would happily go back and trade that expectation, for something real during the 1980s. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! I’m at the point where you were when you wrote this, Pete. I’m 60 and retired. I feel secure financially, but that has never been that important to me anyway. I’ve moved into that phase where I want to do all of the things I never seemed to have time for when I was younger while still contributing something meaningful to society. What I also find myself doing far more now is thinking—about the past, present, and future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used t get that ‘library feeling’ as a child, and then it transferred to films. I was sad, knowing that I would never have time to watch every film I wanted to see.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  4. There always should be a balance, Pete, but unfortunately, for most of us that isn’t possible. I am a chartered accountant and most people in my field work incredibly hard and fairly long hours. I often work a 9 to 10 hour work day and then 6 to 8 hours over weekends. That doesn’t leave much time for living. I am an early riser so I blog in the early morning and after dinner in the evenings. I usually squeeze in about 45 minutes to 60 minutes of reading and during weekends I spend as much time as possible writing. If you don’t work hard when you are young and save money, what happens to you when you are old? Especially if you live in a country that is not socialistic like South Africa or the USA? It is a dilemma.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is not about working hard, Robbie. Just about using what free time is available to do those things that you think you will do once you retire. The problem is, you may well not do them, as other pressures intervene.
      But I assure you that I am not sitting in judgement here, as I had no children to worry abut back then.
      Thanks for your thoughts, and best wishes, Pete.,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great sentiments Pete. My eldest son is contemplating buying a house for the first time with the thought in mind that it will secure him a good future in retirement. Never mind the next twenty years of paying a huge mortgage and the fear of losing his home if he is made redundant – again! The OH and I have saved and the house is mortgage free, yet we do not have a huge nest egg and like you say it is quickly eroded when replacing household items or fixing the house as the income coming in is nowhere near what it used to be. And if either if us has to go into a home then all the money will be gone. Sometimes I think you get more if you have nothing.

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  6. About ten years before we retired, I remember a conversation I had with a doctor friend who had recently retired. His advice mirrored yours. In retirement, we maintain most of the expenses other than those associated with work. Insurance costs go up and there are no “new” sources of income. We tell our children to think about retirement now, but they are young and I am not sure they are listening any more than I did.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Maggie. Even though I planned well, and saved for retirement, events took over. My wife lost her job in 2018, and now works part-time. We had to use some savings to get unexpected things fixed on the house, then my car cost a small fortune to keep on the road.
      I am not really complaining, as we do much better than some. It’s just that the ‘easy’ life I anticipated never happened. That’s what makes me wish that I had been a little more ‘reckless’ in my youth, and travelled more.
      I would suggest that your children do what they can, while they are able to do it. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They are, I think, Pete. As much as they can. It is not easy for them, either. Funny how the cost of living never goes down. I do echo your sentiment about doing more when I was younger, but then it seems I have always felt the weight of responsibility.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. We all get to that reflective point, where we question what has become of our lives or, at least, we marvel at it and think of what we could have done better, or the things we wish we had done that we never did. I think that’s just part of the aging process along with bad knees and diminishing eyesight. And like with the knees and eyesight, we learn to cope with the questioning too. Nice post, Pete. Enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point, Marina. You can adapt what you do to circumstances. But I wrote this about a life once obsessed with owning property, and being ‘secure’ in retirement. It was only much later that I realised what that meant. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  8. I continue to hear this message in recent days, and it speaks to me each time. I wonder if it has been there all along and I’m only now noticing. I’ll be 50 this year…the last ten flew. I’m also feeling the contemplation…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true, Sue. I am talking more about when I was in my late 20s. I worried too much about the future, and not enough about doing things when I was young, fit, and affluent. Not everyone is in that position, I appreciate that.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I always wanted to travel in some way….and still do, and that takes a degree of precedence for my money…..squandered, perhaps and I do worry about the future

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes we can end up making decisions early on which put you on a track – secure job with pension , getting a mortgage, family – or wander the world owning nothing but doing everything while you are fit and young?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe I just unrealistically expected more from that secure job and pension, Janet?
      Turns out it wasn’t enough to do what I thought I would be doing, and I wasn’t really up to doing it if I could. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on beetleypete and commented:

    A reflective post from 2012. My advice to younger people at the time when I had just retired, and was regretting many decisions I had made in life.
    Hardly any of you have seen this one before.

    Like

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