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Being Creative About Retirement

A few years ago, I was fortunate to be able to retire. In the weeks leading up to my departure, a commonly heard refrain was, “What will you do all day?” My response was usually a variant of “Are you kidding me?” In fact, after nearly four decades in the work force, I was experiencing a sense of pent up creative demand.

For many years I had worked in my creative pursuits around my work schedule. I feel fortunate in having a broad range of interests. Without these retirement might not have been so enriching as it has proved to be for me.

For most of a decade while I was working I carried on my writing in my spare time, embarking also on the time-consuming work of recording an audio version of my book Roses of Winter (available on ITunes and at To be honest, if I had understood the magnitude of the task before me when starting out I might have dismissed the idea. Retirement provided more time to finish up the recording and editing of the sound files. (See Recording Spoken Word-A Practical Guide).

Having learned sound recording mainly by a process of trial-and-error self-education I decided to pursue the subject in a more ordered manner. Fortunately the Internet, despite its more trivial applications, contains a rich treasure trove of opportunity for learning. One of those sources is Coursera. Over a period of a couple of years I signed up for online courses including Introduction to Digital Sound Design (Emory University), and Introduction to Music Production (Berklee College of Music).

I am also connected to a network of other writers and podcasters who occasionally ask me to take on various voice roles in their podcast dramas. The Internet has made possible such new and interesting creative associations. In addition, I have recently recorded two oral histories, one from a veteran of the WW2 British merchant navy convoys, the other from a U.S. Navy airship veteran. Both will be preserved in online archives.

As a teenager I had wanted to learn to play drums. My early exposure was in a pipe band associated with the Boy’s Brigade, a youth organization in Scotland. Instead of playing snare drum I ended up as the bass drummer, based mostly on the fact that I was the one most capable of carrying the large bass drum in parades. My best friend at the time owned a drum kit which, unfortunately for me, he would allow no one else to come near.

Jump forward to me at age 63 when I started taking lessons. A couple of years later I felt ready to make the leap to owning my own drum kit. Having

My drum kit

learned to read drum notation, I wanted to learn more about music in general. Back to Coursera where I took Fundamentals of Music Theory (University of Edinburgh). For the record, this was one of the hardest courses I have ever taken, formally or informally. However, it was well worth the effort. Now when my guitarist friend Glen talks about ending on a minor chord, I know what he means.

Photography had long been an interest of mine but I revisited it in a more

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

systematic way after I retired. My main interest is wildlife photography. For many years we have maintained our garden as a backyard habitat as part of the National Wildlife Federation program. A few years after I retired we revamped it to include more native plants. The variety of wildlife we see is quite remarkable for a small suburban New Jersey backyard. Many of the images I post are captured there. It also provides a quiet place for meditation and observation, although my camera is rarely far away.

I realize that there are those who may be unable to retire. However, there are also those who can but fear it as a potential wasteland. It doesn’t have to be. Each individual brings his or her own background and perceptions to retirement. We live in a time when there are more resources available off and online than ever before. What to choose from a fully loaded menu is more of an issue than finding things to do.

Best of all, perhaps, I enjoy having the time to read. I always have a backlog of material waiting for my attention. In addition to books (mainly ebooks in my case) and magazines, the Internet has made it possible to stay current on almost any subject. I use websites such as to customize searches across topics that range from current news to quantum physics to archaeology. And of course, there is the ability to watch the season opener and afternoon games of the Phillies.

For me time time seems to run faster in retirement. The good news is that I can fill it with whatever I want.


P.S. For the drummers who read this, my kit consists of the following:

Toms and Bass Drum: Gretsch Brooklyn Series

Snare: Ludwig Black Beauty

Hardware: Mainly Tama with DW tom mounts

Cymbals: Sabian Evolution HHX

Drum throne: DW

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