Since I retired and am no longer subject to the tyranny of office hours (which generally averaged sixty hours per week), proposals and other work deadlines, getting up before daylight to negotiate traffic jams in a snowstorm and returning home again after dark, I’ve become unusually protective of my time commitments. One of the most wonderful benefits of retirement is no more anxiety-inducing time constraints dictated by others. The downside is I think I’ve taken it too far and now resist any form of activity with a time-related deadline.
Until the discovery and implementation of electric lighting in homes just over one hundred years ago, most people rose at sunrise and went to bed at sunset. With shorter daylight hours of sunlight and longer nights during winter, human beings adapted by hibernating and bedding down for longer hours to keep warm and conserve body energy. I’m inclined to think we also fattened up during the autumn months, a natural phenomenon I still personally undergo every year. What has been genetically engineered into my body’s natural circadian rhythms is becoming the scary master of my daily schedule.
Ask if I want to go to a movie on Tuesday afternoon? Not until after I’ve had my afternoon nap. Otherwise I can’t guarantee I won’t fall asleep in my popcorn. Dinner on Wednesday at a friend’s house? Sure, as long as I’m home and in my jammies by 9:00 p.m. There’s a dance at the clubhouse on Saturday night? No problem. It’s all baby boomers and we’re outa’ there by 10:00 p.m. latest. We regularly close the diningroom at 8:30 p.m.
What ever happened to going out to the pub on a weeknight, swilling beer until well after last call at 1:00 a.m., inviting the gang back to our apartment for more partying and listening to the oldies on the stereo until it’s almost time to go to work? Sure can’t party like we used to. The upside is I’m getting plenty of beauty sleep, albeit without the rewards. The wrinkles persist; the waistline expands and I’m still going bald. But, all is well. I’m living my circadian dream. Rise when I feel like it; go to bed when I feel like it; attend social functions when I feel like it; nap when I feel like it. The old-fashioned rhythm method is guiding my life and it feels wonderful.