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The Waterfall

waterfall

I am an optimistic chap, and you should be, too. Much the best approach to life. But let us have another candid moment. Turning sixty can be awful damn bad if you don’t watch out. And even if you do. Think about it. Some people actually die in their sixties. Not hit by cars or fallen off their bikes. Just die, of semi-natural causes. Like heart failure and cancer-of-the-this-and-that. It is highly unlikely that you will die, of course; I understand that… But death is out there somewhere, and it can make you moody. You keep hearing the waterfall in the distance, and you wonder all the time, What’s that noise? As if you didn’t know. Scary. Very, very scary.

Younger Next Year, by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge.

As I think about our 30 goals for retirement, the sound of the waterfall keeps getting a bit louder.

Turning sixty can be bad. A friend that should be enjoying life in his sixties is now enduring the final stages of terminal cancer. He is only a few years older than me.

There is a fear. Not so much of death itself, although I hope that it won’t be a long, painful, drawn out affair. The fear? Time.

Not enough time to achieve the goals that we will set for ourselves during our retirement years.

One of the most important goals for me will be focused on physical fitness, and not the generic “I will be a healthy person” type of goal.

I love cycling and my hope is to ride as much as I can during most of my retirement years. I started into my winter training program a few weeks ago, spinning about 7 – 10 hours a week. Intense spinning. Hard, painful workouts.

But the goal is not to complete the winter training program. The goal is to prepare for specific rides and events.

In retirement, one of my goals will be to participate in no less than one Gran Fondo a month for the first year.

I will use this calendar to plan for the Gran Fondo nearest wherever Lorraine and I happen to be.

And, whenever I find myself thinking too much about the sound of the waterfall, I will think about why I need to keep pushing myself on a bike.

Riding gives me life and it keeps me living well.

Goal one down.

29 more to go.

What Happens Next?

Waterfall

The time that we spent at the Hershey RV show last September was a milestone for Lorraine and myself. And not because of RV shopping. That part was fun and educational. That part was really an outcome from a much more significant decision, a time when we decided to dream about our future and to answer the question: what happens next?

I was quickly closing in on sixty years of age when we went down to Hershey. I was very uncertain about the future and, frankly, a bit concerned about the lack of vision for life after work.

How could it be that at this time of my life, I was so anxious about what happens next?

I thought the plan to get to retirement was pretty straightforward: get the kids off to a good start, save money, pay off the house. Only, there wasn’t a plan on what we would do during retirement. Aside from planning for it, we hadn’t really talked about how we would live during that time of our lives.

I had read Chris Crowley’s Book, Younger Next Year. This book was really life changing in many ways. Highly recommended.

In his book, Chris talks about the waterfall. The waterfall is the moment in time when our life ends. As we get older, it becomes louder. We can hear it. We know that it is coming. We think about it more and more. And it challenges us to think about one of life’s more important questions: what happens next with the time we have left?

Chris highlights four important attributes of living life well until we reach the waterfall: exercise, nutrition, connecting with others and kedges. A Kedge is his term for ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

All I was focused on was getting to the number.

Lorraine and I spent most of our time talking about the future in terms of the number. What number do we need to retire? What number do we need to live well in retirement? What number do we need to deal with the unexpected during retirement?

I had built highly complex spreadsheet models going out thirty years. I had introduced multiple scenarios. Retire early, retire late. Different rate of inflation numbers. Different rates of return from our investments.

I would go through the number with Lorraine. Is this the right number? What if I had made a mistake? What would happen then?

Lorraine kept telling me that the last thing she was worried about was the money.

I did not have the presence of mind to ask her what the first thing was that she worried about.

But I knew.

It was us.

It was about our ability to keep growing and developing as a couple. To take those wonderful moments that we have been able to enjoy together over the past thirty-five years of marriage: the long weekends, the one-week vacations, the evenings out here and there. To build anew our relationship.

Live life.

We started dreaming about what life could look like after retirement. And we knew what wanted: new adventures.

We started to think about traveling. And then about traveling in a motorhome. And to do so full-time.

I started researching on the web. I came across Gone With The Wynns. And RV Dreams. And many, many more.

Retirement will be an exciting change and a lifetime accomplishment. Lorraine and I will create the future us.

  • We will pursue a new chapter of life — the best time of our lives
  • We will follow our passions and our dreams
  • We will awaken our spirit
  • We will rediscover joy and serenity in life

So, although part of the journey on our blog will focus on our new RV, which has been a terrific and fun experience, what happens next is really a challenge to think about the future. Our future. The future us.