"Oh, nothing much. Haven't really decided yet. We might do a bit of travelling. Need to clean the place up a bit I suppose."
The speaker sounded far from enthusiastic. I know he used to take work home with him.
When my father ceased being the head of a school he moved into making conjuring apparatus for his fellow magicians. He was in demand as a speaker about late Victorian and Early Edwardian toys and entertainment...complete with hands on experiences for the audience. He did conjuring shows at children's birthday parties. He taught (and still teaches) magic, woodwork and study skills to young people. He mends things for other people in his shed. He has largely ceased going to night meetings and he has ceased to take on roles in a diverse range of organisations and to belong to quite so many of them. He no longer belongs to the woodworking group, the organic gardening group, the electronics group, or the group which is concerned with the preservation of old recordings. He is still a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and, if they bring things to him, he still repairs items for the women's shelter. He still reads widely and he is busy. He knows he is fortunate.
I wondered about the other person though. What will he do with his retirement? I know people who read for RPH, our local radio station for the 'print handicapped', who work in the charity shop, who do Meals on Wheels, who look after Nellie's Garden at the Railway Station, who drive the Community Bus so that older people can go shopping, who volunteer at the local library and do the Mobile Library service. I know someone who has walked the Milford Track and another who went trekking in Nepal. Many of these people have also taken a caravan trip at least as far as Queensland, some have been right around Australia. The two most intrepid people I know have driven from Malaysia through to Paris. It took them nearly three years to do it. Their children thought they were mad.
In between people look after their grandchildren or neighbour's children. They go to classes in quilting, embroidery, videorecorder techniques, computing, webpage design, pottery, drama, tai-chi and anything else you can think of. Life is not going to be long enough for them.
If I ever manage to retire then I hope it will be the same. There are still so many things I want to do and learn and know.
I do wonder about that other person though. Has he simply stopped wanting to learn? Does he feel unwanted now that he no longer goes to work? Has his life in fact been 'nothing much'?