I retired about six months ago. Seems like yesterday, if you don’t count those days that lasted for weeks. Like the old joke: I spent a week in Cleveland one night. Let me explain.

In one sense, retirement is easy. You get old. You quit your job. You collect Social Security. You start playing with model trains and hanging around barbershops. Voila! – you’re retired.

In some ways, though, retirement is a more complicated business. Certain fundamental things change overnight. Like your relationship to time. For 60 years, school and work were at the center of your universe, and they took up a lot of your time. Now, free of those joys or burdens (depending on your experience and perspective), you’ve now got a whole lot more time on your hands.

Of course, the classic axiom that work (or any activity) expands to fill the time available still holds true. But it feels different when the most important thing you have to do on a Wednesday afternoon is get a haircut. If the entire process takes four or five hours, with all the necessary preparations and inevitable distractions, so be it. If you look a little better after and didn’t drive over any animals or children, it was time well spent.

One “timely” thing you learn when you get older is that (spoiler alert – cliché ahead!) it’s never too late to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. I started writing a satirical novel after retiring. My five-day-a-week morning writing schedule became my new “job.” I rewarded my disciplined efforts by personally keeping L.L. Bean afloat and fly fishing many afternoons. Both activities generated unbelievable stories.

A monolingual creature (like most Americans), I want to learn French, now that I have the time and the expensive Rosetta Stone software. My wife and I like to travel to Quebec. To the French Canadians I meet there, all I need to say is “bonjour,” and they immediately start conversing with me in English. My goal is to get at least three French words out of my mouth before they humiliate me.

That it’s “never too late” was a lesson I learned decades earlier. I took up a martial art in my late 30s, a physically strenuous activity typically the province of testosterone-fueled, action-movie-addicted teenage boys. I practiced for 13 years, earning a black belt and my share of transcendent experiences along the way. I stepped away from the practice to pursue other interests and to find out what it felt like to climb out of bed in the morning and not think I’d somehow been secretly beaten up during the night by an angry motorcycle gang. Most of this year’s presidential candidates, active and fallen, have retired from something – buying up beauty pageants, melting down blue-chip companies, splitting Siamese twins, building The People’s Republic in Vermont, racking up government-sponsored frequent-flyer miles. I could throw my hat in the ring, too. But right now I’ve got just enough time for a nap.

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