When I launched BoomerBroadcast in 2013, I posted three times a week—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My life in the beginning and for the first few years was eventful and I had plenty of observations and opinions on a wide range of topics to share with readers.
For the past two years, however, since the start of the pandemic, I’ve stopped eating out in restaurants, stopped going to movie theatres, cut way back on the frequency of trips to the grocery store, severely curtailed social activities, put a halt to leisurely days at the mall, and, along with everyone else on the planet generally stopped living a normal life. With a dearth of material to draw upon, postings on BoomerBroadcast have been reduced to once a week, Mondays only.
It can be very tempting for retired baby boomers to become lazy and make the COVID way of life our default way of life going forward. We stopped having friends over for dinner, going to the movies, meeting friends at a café for lunch. We could no longer attend weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties. Even family Christmases and other holiday gatherings were verboten. Active social events that are the essence of our retired lives were shelved.
At a time in life when boomers finally have the time and money to travel, we’ve been locked down. No tropical cruises, no sipping a delicious Brunello while watching a Tuscan sunset, and no adventurous RV rambles for us.
At first, the slowing down of the pace of life was a welcome respite from all that “busyness” we had grown accustomed to. I caught up on all my reading; I got plenty of sleep, including delicious afternoon naps. I allowed myself to enjoy the leisurely pace I had adopted and easily slipped into a new, slower lifestyle, which, incidentally, did not include finally clearing out all the crap in my basement. We do have limits.
Two years later, that slower pace has me concerned. I feel like we’ve lost two years of our lives and accelerated the aging process. As baby boomers, our years on this earth are quickly running out and that is very worrying. If we’re lucky, we older boomers have a mere twenty years left at the most, if we remain in good health and behave ourselves.
I’m not about to join the truckers in Ottawa (whom I most strenuously disagree with and feel they represent a tiny minority of Canadians), haul out my posters and start picketing though. We are all fed up with restrictions but for the greater good of our community and being conscientious, law-abiding Canadians, we tend to collectively play by the rules. We have achieved 90% vaccination rates and some of the lowest death rates per capita in the world. But, our patience is wearing thin.
The provinces are gradually relaxing restrictions and whether “herd immunity” will kick in remains to be seen. As someone who has been infected with COVID despite strictly obeying the rules, my perspective on the ongoing threat has also relaxed. With three vaccinations and one dose of the virus under my belt, I feel ready to regard it as something we can manage by getting vaccinated and mitigating the risk by masking and distancing. Vaccinations have generally proven effective in keeping us out of the hospital and barring immunity issues, the Omicron variant is manageable for most healthy individuals who are fully vaccinated.
This year I will turn seventy-five which means I can see the horizon and I do not want to waste a single day of my precious time left on this earth. The past two years have made me lazy, apathetic, and lacking in motivation. Even minor household tasks are now put off until tomorrow, or next month, and overriding thoughts of “It can wait” now dominate my prioritizing. That is a potentially fatal attitude.
Dragging my ass around from one day to the next with no sense of urgency has turned me into someone without anything to look forward to and having something to look forward to is an essential part of our entire raison d’être. We need projects to do and social gatherings with friends and family to get us out of bed with a sense of purpose each morning. We’ve become apathetic and tired of what life is doling out these days.
What to do?
As we move further into 2022, I plan to become more involved in my own life and take control of it as much as possible. I have lost two years of my life and like so many retirees, we have been unable to travel. Before the pandemic set in, I was scheduled to attend a writers’ retreat in Paris in 2020. After two cancellations, it has now been rescheduled for June of this year and this boomer will be there—masked, triple-vax’d and damn the torpedoes.
I have been infected once already and I do not have that many years left that I will be able to hobble around on those French cobblestones without spraining an ankle or re-breaking a hip. My third hip replacement last April was a harsh reminder that my bones have a finite life expectancy and time is limited. The past two years have aged me ten years and I intend to try and claw some of it back while I am still ambulatory.
Call me reckless, but life is becoming increasingly precious and I’m running out of time. I’m making my list of things I want to see and do in Paris. I’m planning what clothes to take and I’m test-driving my various comfortable shoes to see which ones best qualify to make the cut. Comfort supersedes cute.
I can already taste the hot chocolate at Angelina’s, the tea and pastries at Ladurée, and a lovely cold Sancerre sipped at a corner French bistro with my new writing friends. Galleries Lafayette is calling my name and I expect they have planned a welcome back party for me. I hear there is a museum of Yves St. Laurent fashion that is a must-see.
I love prowling Paris markets and vintage stores. Having already seen Versailles, the Eiffel Tower and other tourist spots, I’m interested in more off-the-beaten-path sights. Simply walking the streets of Paris with no agenda is a thrill. I’m going to check out some French translation apps. It’s my own tiny French revolution.
We have all had enough of COVID robbing us of living and as restrictions ease up, it is time to once again embrace life. Masking and distancing are just common-sense precautions that I intend to maintain but I’m rejoining the world. How are you holding up? Dig out those comfortable shoes and let’s storm The Bastille.
The Bigger Picture
Or, the smaller picture, depending on your age. As I was finalizing this blog for posting I read an interesting piece about this very issue in the Sunday edition of The New York Times: How To Get Back The Time Covid Stole by Tim Urban. He presents the concept of ‘depressing math’ which is a variation of ‘the glass is half full’ philosophy.
When we look at our lives as a finite number of weeks, months or any other metric, baby boomers have already used up most of our units of time and opportunity. Or have we? Even though mathematically we have more years behind us than in front of us, we still have unlimited opportunities to maximize the value of those weeks/months/years ahead by filling them with people and experiences that are important to us. And, the beauty of it is that because we’re retired, we can turn all our time into quality time.
According to Urban, “most of us greatly underestimate the size of the lush green tree of possibilities that lie ahead of us”, and we should take advantage of our remaining time to eat the foods we love, spend time with the people who mean the most to us, visit places we long to see, spend more time doing what we enjoy on a daily basis, and generally squeeze every drop out of living life that we can while we still can, starting right now. So, I’m off to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard. À bientôt mes tres chères.