Too Much Free Time?

NEVER! Since I retired at the end of 2002 that has not been a problem for me, though as a former “work-obsessed American,” what I did with my “free time” was at first very important to me, making sure I was “accomplishing something” all of the time! Not now!

This and feature photo at top made from hill above my house, inspiration points! 🙂

This so-called “Free Time” was brought to my mind Wednesday as I read this article in The Washington Post: Why having too much free time can be as bad for you as having too little and I apologize if you can’t read it as a non-subscriber, but I think they allow you one article for free. That article is mostly focused on people still working and not us retirees. But it motivated my little essay here on free time:

“It has occurred to me that the thing you have, that all men have enough of, is perhaps the thing that you care for the best, and that is your leisure – the leisure you have to think; the leisure you have to be let alone; the leisure you have to throw the plummet into your mind, and sound the depth and dive for things below.”

― James A. Garfield

I flew back to Nashville from my last three years of full-time employment as the Business Facilitator of a Mission in The Gambia, West Africa with grand expectations of using my new “free time” or “leisure” as called in the above quote. I would finally “slow down” with no boss, no other person or even a family expecting things from me and finally be the creative person I somehow thought I was.

During my last year in Africa I seriously considered retiring there as some of my new British friends there had done, but the “practical side” of me nixed concluding my life in an “African Adventure” as much as I loved the tropical forests and wonderful loving people there that were over-shadowed by a horribly corrupt and dangerous government and an almost non-existent healthcare system. 🙂

So I returned to Nashville where my stuff was stored, bought a downtown rowhouse across the street from the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park for my new life of leisure, biking the greenways of Nashville, hiking and camping in the state parks and natural areas of Tennessee, photographing it all and soon beginning a nature photography business through arts & crafts fairs, galleries and special shows, becoming the president of Nashville Photography Club at one point. And soon my “leisure activity” became hard work that was causing backaches and the so-called “business” was costing money rather than making money! 🙂 By 2008 I gave up the “photography business” and finally slowed down to just my photo trips for fun, expanding to national parks and Latin American trips for a life of almost continuous vacation, a great use of “free time!” 🙂

Then in 2010, as the oldest person in my condominium rowhouses, I became concerned over the “group management” of our mostly young adult condo board and some aging healthcare issues and decided to move to an “independent living” Retirement Village where I had my own stand-alone house with freedom to continue my many travels, the still preferred use of my “free time.” But the one meal a day in the dining room made me feel like an old man as I stumbled over walkers and heard the continuous stories of aches and pains, plus the cost was such that travel would now be very limited. Plus everything else you do in the states is expensive (especially healthcare), thus I was feeling limited or “trapped” again and the right-wing Republican politics was driving me crazy and I just didn’t want to live in that kind of America any more. So, because of all of that, and especially not affording to travel, I decided to move to where I enjoyed traveling the most which was then Central America, especially Costa Rica which is on the same parallel as The Gambia West Africa that I loved so much. But it is in contrast to The Gambia with the absolute best government and healthcare system in all of Latin America, plus lower cost of living than in the states. Win, win, win! And a new environment for my “free time.” 🙂

Since December of 2014 I have lived a dream life of retirement surrounded by nature. I own nothing, no house, no car, nada. I live in a beautiful small rent house with vistas, gardens, birds and butterflies and within walking distance of the center of a little coffee farming town in the Central Valley of Costa Rica (Atenas). I travel to national parks, wildlife refuges, etc. all over the country by bus, private driver or small plane; at one time somewhere every month, but slowing down on that now. My “free time” is the traveling and photographing the nature plus writing about it to share on this blog. That’s it! No selling photos, just sharing in blog and a gallery. When not traveling I enjoy my gardens and make photos there and read a lot of books now, mostly electronically on my Kindle. I’m never bored and neither am I ever in that constant tension of getting everything done! It is now a “Pura Vida Life” Retired in Costa Rica! 🙂

“I’m getting too old to waste my free time on things and people I don’t like.”

― Nitya Prakash

Note: Don’t take that quote wrong, I love people! And I relate almost daily to the loving Costa Ricans called “Ticos” here and to many of the expats living here from around the world, but after a horrible 20-year marriage I will never be in another “relationship” and I think I am one of those persons who simply lives better alone. I am never lonely nor bored. And I generally try to live by this quote’s advice:

Avoid hyper-scheduling yourself so you have free time to do something creative or perhaps to do nothing at all.”

― Melissa Steginus

¡Pura Vida!

5 Replies to “Too Much Free Time?”

  1. Loved your article, Charlie. I read your articles every day and love your adventures. Seems to me that you have found “the good life”, what more can we ask.

    1. Thank you Naomi! And I have often asked myself “What more could I ask for?” I am incredibly peaceful and happy here in the kind of retirement years I had earlier asked God to allow. And here I will be until who knows how long? 🙂

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