Happy Trails, Part 119: Smiles reveal relaxed attitude

A recently retired friend of mine posted a picture of himself on social media. My first thought when I saw the picture was: Man, he looks mighty relaxed.

I sent him a message that “retirement suits” him.

So it is with many of my friends who now are retired from varied careers. It seems to me that no matter what they did when they were working for a living, they all seem so much more “relaxed” now that they are free to come and go as they please.

I know that makes me sound like Captain Obvious. It might not seem that way to my younger friends who are still hard at it, still working for The Man, still waiting for the next paycheck.

So maybe this message is for them.

I “retired” from daily journalism on someone else’s terms. I wasn’t able to walk away on my own terms. Still, even though my career ended suddenly and quite unhappily in the manner that it did, I discovered something rapidly as I began transitioning into full-time retirement: I didn’t actually miss working nearly as much as I thought I would.

Indeed, I had many acquaintances tell me as we encountered each other that I was “looking really relaxed.” Some would comment that my face revealed a new outlook on life. They suggested I was smiling more broadly, that I actually had a bit of a spring in my step. My wife was one of those who said I became a different — and more pleasant — person once I stopped reporting for work.

I used to have this crease in the middle of my forehead that seemed almost permanent. When I was working full time, I found myself scowling even when I was relatively calm.

That forehead crease has all but disappeared.

It’s been nearly six years since I walked away from my last full-time job. I’ll admit there were times, especially in the months immediately after it came to a close, that I did look back. I would wonder: What the hell happened back there?

Those days are long gone. I, too, am relaxed.

I feel as relaxed as my newly retired friend who seems to have adjusted immediately to the good life.

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