There’s no hiding from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial protests and rioting, and the political push and shove of an election year, yet one thing remains unaffected by all the above: the march of time. Come what may, we are all a year older than last year; 10 years older than 2010.
Ready or not, we are all on our way to retirement, or have already crossed that Rubicon. So let’s step aside from the current turmoil for a moment and look down the road ahead.
When you’ve attained senior status, presumably you’ve reached the crest of that proverbial hill. Once over that summit you face life’s next great intersection.
No one approaches this juncture without some trepidation. This is no place to make a wrong turn because all roads past this point are one-way. No GPS yet invented will tell you which road sign to follow. One promises “This Way To Adventure.” Another reads, “Straight Ahead To Serenity.” And, of course, there’s “For Salvation Turn Right.”
What’s missing is a guarantee the destinations will live up to their promises.
Nowadays most of the traffic seems to favor the serenity option. This takes the shape of a vast comfort station, better known as a retirement community.
The Coachella Valley is a Mecca for these in-gatherings. What began as caravans of Winnebagos forming protective circles at road’s end have become walled enclaves insulated from the mayhem beyond their gates.
It’s easy to understand the allure of these retreats. Anyone a bit weary from that long climb up the hill is easily detoured with promises of perpetual R&R. They are that, all right, but there is a price to pay (isn’t there always!) for all those fun and games.
You will find yourself surrounded by nothing but yourselves.
All your aches and complaints — often referred to as “Organ Recitals” — will be endlessly repeated on the first tee and at high tea. Protecting your person and property will be a favorite card table topic. The lack of diversity keeps argument to a minimum and breeds a benign indifference to tolerance.
Nothing unexpected or unsterilized is allow to invade these antiseptic precincts.
There is nothing inherently wrong about assuming a defensive lifestyle. Indeed, it is age-related. But consider this a plea for moderation. Folks who spend most of their waking hours in a preventative mode are not a barrel of fun. It affects not just their attitude, but also their appearance and health! As a man (and woman) thinketh, so he/she is. The subjective mind is the builder and the destroyer of the body. You cannot think without a result.
One sure antidote for the fore-mentioned proclivities is grandchildren. If you’ve got some, see as much of them as possible. Another is mentoring, and all other forms for volunteering that take you out of your comfort zones.
To conclude, it must be said that the proliferation of these communities is not caused so much by a lack of heart among their inhabitants as due to the changes in the woof and wrap of this country’s social fabric. Those days when elders were housed in sons’ and daughters’ homes are long gone. By choice and/or necessity.
Today’s olde folks must accommodate themselves in something manageable in size and design, with electronic eyes in place of the kids’. Del Webb, et al., simply filled that need. And lest the reader thinks the writer knows not of what he speaks, let it be known he resides where no one under 55 may settle.
Samm Coombs of Palm Desert is a retired adman, publisher and author. Email him at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Valley Voice: The promise and reality of the retirement community as life’s ‘destination’