I had some school work I had to get done today, so I decided to go to our local library instead of working at home. This way I wouldn’t be tempted to visit the fridge or snack closet every 15 minutes…
It turned out to be a fairly productive day (I was there from 10:15-3:45) and a potentially enlightening one as well.
As I sat in a chair doing my work, I couldn’t help but notice how many guys, just slightly older than me it seemed, who came into the library for various reasons.
One of the more popular reasons was to read newspapers.
Our library has a decent selection of local and national newspapers, and I noticed some of the guys would read a couple of different newspapers while they were there.
This observation struck me for a couple of reasons.
First, my wife and I have said that if we move when we retire, one of the priorities will be living close to a library. We have been blessed to have a great local library (Radnor Memorial), and I hope we can find one just as nice if we move. I think we both envision a retired life filled with lots and lots of reading, the books generously supplied by the local library. In addition, since I’ve usually been too cheap to have a subscription to a newspaper, a library would offer me the opportunity to stop in every day and get caught up with what’s going on locally and around the world. I know I can do that on my computer, but it always seems more enjoyable to actually page through a newspaper.
So it seemed as if these guys I spotted today at our local library were living my dream retirement. Coming into a library and taking as much time as they wanted to go through the newspapers.
But then another thought came to me as I watched these guys.
I hoped this wasn’t the highlight of their day, because looking into the future, I realized I don’t want reading a newspaper to be the highlight of my day.
Yes, it seems like a great way to spend an hour or two out of the house, ideally early in the morning. But it seemed pretty inward-focused; reading a newspaper doesn’t seem to contribute much to society.
It made me realize that when I’m retired, I want to feel like I still have a purpose, whatever that may be. Yes, I want to live a more relaxed, carefree life, but I still want to feel like I’m productive in some way.
Maybe it will be volunteering, maybe it will be writing the great American novel, maybe it will be a part-time job.
Sure, I’ll still plan to go to the library and read the newspapers but hopefully, it won’t be the most productive thing I do all day.
And please note that I am not suggesting that these men I observed today were not leading fulfilling lives. They simply served as a catalyst for me to think about my future, and how to make the most of it.
*image from behance.net