I started drawing Social Security this month, having turned sixty-six years old. Medicare starts in October, completing my official transition to the old-timers’ club.

From what I’ve seen so far, it’s a pretty good gig. I don’t have a lot of money coming in, but I spent my employment years in education, so I’m used to that. My days are full (at least as full as I want them to be), and it’s my schedule, not someone else’s. Between writing and music and volunteer work, sometimes I barely have time for my daily nap.

One thing I don’t spend my time on is wishing for a return to the good old days. I know I have a well-developed selective memory, and I’m guessing most of those pining away for how things used to be have the same condition. I do count myself among those who are dismayed by the recent loss of progress in many areas; having said that, I look forward to the continuation of the trend I’m already starting to see, of some people in power starting to push back. It’s taking longer than I would like, but that tug-of-war has been going on throughout our country’s history. It’s built into the structure of our political system, and even those of us who are not political junkies have a role to play. We would do well to remember that, pay attention, and vote our consciences. 

Politics aside, the overall question of what to do now is an interesting one. One thing that keeps me going is the fact that I can still be surprised, and there has never been a shortage of new and interesting things to learn and experience and appreciate. Something I can do now that I couldn’t before is wake up, have a cup of hot tea, and wait to see what comes along to fill the day. I almost never find myself being disappointed or bored, and that is a precious thing indeed, maybe the best thing.

An advantage I have, along with the other folks that have made it this far, is that if I gather my wandering brain cells together long enough to function, I can use the fact that I’ve seen a lot of stuff to step out of the frantic pursuit of what’s new and shiny and focus on the core things that remain. Maybe I’ll pass those insights along to all the youngsters out there.

Or maybe I’ll just tell them to keep the noise down, that it’s time for my afternoon nap. It’s a tough call.

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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