We’ve all heard the oft-repeated cliches of retirement:
• Retirement is just a never-ending vacation.
• Think about retirement as being two six-month holidays per year.
• Why do retirees smile all the time? Because they can’t hear a word you’re saying.
• Etc., etc., etc.
My personal favorite is “retirement’s not for the timid.”
All that said, I’ve been going through a storage pod since retiring to Durango one year ago. It’s the pod from my days living and teaching in SoCal, and for various reasons the storage unit’s one I had not had delivered for more than a dozen years. Until now.
There are in it sets of dishes from three family generations and yellowing letters and black-and-white pictures in a variety of photo albums, and much more.
And then there are the dozens of book boxes chock-a-block with every sort of hard- and paperback book my family and I’d read and collected and stored over the decades. While many of these literary gems have now been bequeathed to the Durango Public Library, I’m still dithering about three sets of books.
One is the “Classics Club” by Walter J. Black of New York. It’s a set of eight tan, hardbacks from, as the name implies, the classics. Francis Bacon essays, Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, Samuel Butler’s “The Way of All Flesh,” “Paradise Lost and Other Poems” by John Milton, “The Best of Ralph Waldo Emerson,” and, well, you get the picture.
Another is Will and Ariel Durant’s 10- volume set, “The Story of Civilization” – Caesar and Christ and Voltaire and “Our Oriental Heritage” and more. Detailed civilization writ large, to say the least.
Then there is the 24-volume set of large hardbacks from 1947 dedicated to “Harry S. Truman and His Majesty George The Sixth” – The Encyclopaedia Britanica. Weighty in so many, many ways.
These three sets once graced the living room shelves of my boyhood home near Cleveland, Ohio. While my parents, two older brothers and I knew of and used them for reference, they were mostly decorative ornaments in our shelves of the many other hundreds of family books.
Now, I’ve not surrendered a handful of favorite books to the library’s used-books section – works I’m hoping to delve into yet again in my remaining years. But I’m unlikely to ever again crack any of the impressive three-volumes of hardbacks in my retirement. And they take up limited space in my townhouse.
But what’s this former journalist and academic to do with this three-volume treasure trove of rich literature and reference works?
Foisting it onto my adult daughter would be unkind as her Colorado dwelling is already space challenged. So I’m left wondering – should I or should I not load those four boxes of vintage volumes into my car’s trunk and take them to the library, knowing that while the librarians would kindly receive them with warm smiles, these books likely would seldom, if ever, be cracked again.
Yes, retirement – and all its choices – is not for the timid.
William A. Babcock, a former media ethics professor, is retired and living in Durango.