retirement living

[Blue Zones] Pardon the rant, it’s just old age

Bing Caballero

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

[Blue Zones] Pardon the rant, it’s just old age
Retirement forces you to change your life when you have no interest in changing it

And there it is. 68. Three years after retirement. Old age. The fear of an ugly death, a prolonged illness, the reality of deteriorating cartilage. And they say, you are as young as you feel. As you know, the people who often say that are young. 

Age is just a number. Yeah, right. Tell me that the next time I fill out an electronic form and have to scroll down decades before I can reach my birth year. Old age. 

Speaking of decades, I am old enough to view my life in terms of chapters. There’s the “first marriage” chapter, where I explored my creative side as a writer and a poet; the “diplomatic wife” chapter (second marriage), which opened up my world and took me to live in New York, Helsinki, and Kuala Lumpur; and the corporate life chapter, which saw me raising my children as a widow and single mother in Manila. A third act? Try a fourth and a fifth. 

Then it happened. It’s 2019. Compulsory retirement.

They put you to pasture, retire you when you’re still feeling relevant and vital. And you suddenly feel alone. 

The corporate family that occupied you five days a week, your best friend at work who listened to your problems over a morning coffee, your younger friends you had after-hours beer with and shared outings, conferences out of town… cut off in midstream so to speak. Just because of your age.

It’s a cruel thing when you put it that way. It forces you to change your life when you have no interest in changing it. But the law is the law.

Lockdown’s blessings

The pandemic softened the blow because I was not not the only one confined to quarters. The whole world was in the same isolated rut. 

Thankfully, I had Cooper, my mini-poodle, who needed a daily walk, cable TV, and my CNN besties, Anderson, Don and Chris. Saved by the Nike app and online dance classes to support our out-of-work gym coaches and having to do house chores because my helper was locked down in Commonwealth as well, I found myself busy. Very busy. I learned how to use the washing machine and found joy in hanging clothes to dry.

Face, Head, Person

Masterchef Australia taught me to cook. The community started selling veggies, fish, meat, even beer and wine – everything I needed, delivered to my doorstep.

When restrictions eased, Cooper and I would drive to the malls, and run around the empty hallways of MegaMall and Eastwood. In hindsight, it was all rather fun.

Then restrictions ended and the city woke up and traffic came back to the streets and people, argh, people started to come out of the woodwork.

Then, even worse, friends went back to work and I was left with the reality that I was retired and blocked from the life that I enjoyed just a couple of years ago. Downright cruel.

Like me, you probably had this romantic notion that you could be some kind of a gentleman farmer, watching your herb garden, feeling like Thoreau. What was I thinking? I grew up on EDSA! 

Some friends have succeeded at this, but they had, very wisely, prepared themselves for retirement. Some of us had not.

Starting over on consultancy work that I had prior to the pandemic suffered from inertia with each day, making it more and more difficult to even check my email.

It was taking longer and longer for me to put my make-up on, only because I was extending my morning routine, because the malls opened at 11, and Cooper could have his walk in air-conditioned atmospheres.

Then, there was nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing after lunch. My hours were whiled away playing games on my phone, binge-watching Netflix, and waiting for 5-thirsty to come around.

What to do?

Pick up knitting or crochet? Arthritis. Work out? Metabolism is slow no matter what IF, Keto, low-carb diet one picks up for the Nth time. The bicycle tire around one’s waist slowly becomes a spare tire, resistant to cardio workouts.

What am I going to do? I asked a friend. 

“You have skills, Bing,” she said.

For the life of me, I couldn’t think what. My mind was flailing away like an adolescent’s. After decades of having your days dictated by movie shooting schedules, diplomatic dinners, and all activities that came with a corporate life, I was stumped.

“What are you going to do?” another friend asked.

In a moment of positivity, I said, “It will present itself. Eventually.”

And I think it has. –

Bing Caballero returns to the literary scene after a long hiatus. She may be remembered for Ishmael Bernal’s Broken Marriage (Urian best screenplay with Jose Carreon) and her Palanca Award for Poetry Songs in Three Continents.

The column’s name was inspired by Dan Beuttner’s work on the world’s blue zones.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!