Why Retire?

Our lives are a mix of work and play (= “liesure”). We tend to play more in the evenings, on weekends, holidays, and vacations, and at the start and end of our lives. Why this pattern of work vs. play?

We clearly like to put some play time close to work time, to avoid delaying gratification, and to get periodic rests from work. We also like to play at the same time as our friends and family. These factors go a long way toward explaining evenings, weekends, and holidays.

We also get some scale economies from periodic longer playtimes, which helps explain vacations; some sorts of play just don’t fit well in weekends. Humans and other animals were designed to learn important skills during childhood playtime, which helps explain our start of life play. (Most animals only play when young.)

Our habit of deferring so much play into the end of life, however, is a bit more puzzling. Our ancestors didn’t do this – it is a feature of our modern world. While encouraged by laws and regulations, the idea also just seems to appeal to many. But why, for example, doesn’t the idea of spreading a decade of play from age 65-75 across the four decades from age 25 to 65 appeal more? Why not want a week off every month, or two years off out of every eight?

Some say we play more when old because our work productivity declines then. And this makes complete sense in the extreme case when one isn’t able to work at all. But as Nick Rowe points out (HT Eric Crampton), before that extreme our ability to play and work decline together. And since our bodies decline faster than our minds, our capability for physically active play declines even faster than our ability to do mental work.

Asking my colleagues, most endorsed the view that we retire early because when our abilities decline, work abilities decline faster than play abilities. Yet this view doesn’t fit our short-term choices. When we are modestly under the weather, and can choose either to work with reduced productivity, or to play with reduced fun, most folks choose work over play. (I surveyed a class of 35 students.)

Once as a young man working at Lockheed, I decided to switch from working 40 to 30 hours per week, to spend more time on my independent research. My rate of advancement in the company didn’t just slow by 25%, it stopped completely — I was seen as not serious about my job. This suggests a signaling explanation for retirement: spreading our end of life play across the rest of our life would makes us look less serious and productive as workers.

Murray’s book Coming Apart emphasizes how there are many people with very poor work habits and motivation:

“What about the white guys on the corner.” … “The bums. … Those guys couldn’t work here, they can’t hold a job. …. They’re not motivated to work.” … “They’ll live on welfare or any other income they got coming in. They don’t want to work.” (p.217)

It seems that a willingness to put in lots of hours in midlife signals many other good things about you. So we send such signals, and then switch to play at the end of our lives, when it is too late for the bad signals to hurt us much. If real, this is a pretty big signaling cost we all pay, to seem like serious workers.

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  • Lord

    Work when you can, play when you must.

    • plebeian cog

      Well put. Though I often read accounts from older people who wish they had played more, and worked less.

    • Jeffrey Ellis

      Play when you can, work when you must. As someone approaching retirement, I wish I had live more by this motto. Most work is overrated, except as a means of generating income. If you have a mission in life — teaching, nursing, making the world a better place, etc., that’s great. I’ve spent a great deal of my life working very hard, long hours to make a great living. In retrospect, I’m not so certain I would have been equally or more happy working less and devoting more time to my family and friendhips.

    • Henry

      I took my retirement in my 20s. Self-financed through seasonal work, I traveled the world, pursued interests, read books, met fascinating people, had many relationships. I wanted to do it while I was young enough to enjoy it.

      I then started my career in my 30s . Now, at 44. I’m responsible, run a business, have kids, and work all the time. It was definitely difficult getting a late start, but the hardest part for me has been longing for the joy in leisure that I knew in my 20s.

      Most people go right from school to work, never knowing the freedom or joy of real leisure.

      Knowing how to spend free time is a skill that must be developed, and most people have never done it.

      Why do people wait until the end of their life to retire?

      Sadly, because they want to — they don’t know what they are missing.

  • Robert Koslover

    This doesn’t seem especially mysterious to me. Many, if not most people who earn a living, at least in America, are not especially free to choose arbitrarily how many hours they put in at work. Also, what matters to an employer is the employee’s ability to work, not play. Employers don’t generally care if you play in your free time of if you will be good at playing if/when you retire. But they certainly want you to work, whenever you are “at work.” And if they: (1) have to cover lots of benefits and expenses (e.g., health insurance, providing you with a desk at work, etc), and (2) need you to be available when other employees are also available, then they would generally prefer that you work “full-time.” In contrast, self-employed people and some others who likewise do not have to coordinate their activities closely with colleagues during the working day, may have far more flexible hours. Finally, older people tend have (statistically speaking) more health problems, the management of which starts to consume an ever greater fraction of each day. At some point, it cuts into their ability to do productive work. And rightly or wrongly, it is not socially-correct/practical to blatantly reduce their pay as they get older.

  • Adam M

    Unfortunately, firms can’t exactly offer jobs that have less hours during youth and more during old age, because long term contracts like that are burdensome. A schedule that offered more play would also attract less motivated workers.

    I can’t think of an immediate fix. We should probably focus on finding better metrics for worker productivity, since that should reduce the need for this kind of signalling.

    Also, in the first line, “liesure”. A very Hansonian typo. 🙂

  • blink

    Based on your description of your job at Lockheed, signaling appears to be the correct model. For most jobs, however, I think you underestimate the benefits of coordination. Many jobs work like team sports: we need to practice and perform together. There is also considerable variation among jobs — consider, for example, the costs faced by a woman contemplating maternity leave

    • Michael Wengler

      Signalling… BS.

      Most people’s subjective sense is that your productivity is superlinear with the number of hours you work per week, at least up through the 40 to 60 hour range. Graduate students classically work way more than 40 hours.

      This is consistent with almost everything interesting in business being superlinear. The classic example is that profits are significantly superlinear with revenues. Cutting your expenses of production 1% may increase profits 20%, depending on your margins. Cutting productivity 25% (40 to 30 hours if linear) may be the difference between profitability and loss.

      When you work for Lockheed instead of working for yourself, you are basically having Lockheed take way more risk than you are, they essentially take the risk you would be taking if you were self employed. At that point you get the necessary moral hazard of all risk transference, 30 v. 40 hours to you means something entirely different than to the entity paying you regularly despite the proabiltiy of irregular productivity.

      Does it still count as signalling when it is a totally rational causal connection?

      • Chad

        My subjective experience is that productivity scales sub-linearly with hours worked, beyond some reasonable minimum. The data I have seen on error rates in hospitals confirms this, showing that beyond 40 hours per week, error rates increase exponentially. I used to put in solid 65 hour weeks during grad school with only a handful of days off per year, and I am certain that any attempt to put in more hours would have been useless unless it was for the most mundane work such as grading papers. You can force yourself to do grunt work for up to a hundred hours a week, though you will become rapidly less efficient beyond 60 hours or so. When I hear of people in certain professions bragging about insanely long workweeks, I can only imagine that they are getting paid obscene sums for spending hours tweaking powerpoints for the big boss, and not doing real innovative or creative work after only having slept 4-5 hours a night and having no free time in the last two weeks.

        On the low end, though, you are right. Someone working twenty hours a week will get more than twice done than someone working ten hours, because inevitably a few hours a week get tied up in junk that simply doesn’t scale.

      • > This is consistent with almost everything interesting in business being superlinear.

        So diseconomies of scale do not exist? Funny, I think even Robin has posted on how companies tend to be too large (suggesting empire-building psychology, IIRC)…

      • Andy

        My experience is completely the opposite. There is some minimum # of hours you need to stay “in form”, but after that productivity increases sublinearly. My first 20 hours/week are probably 2x as productive as the next 10, and so on.

  • Two thoughts. First, the recipients of our signals include potential mates, who want indicators of our quality. They want to see if you can work hard. Plus, if competing for positional goods with our income, a narrow loss is no good.

    Second, if we look at our ancestors (or many hinter-gatherer tribes today), they had huge amounts of play through their whole lives. The change is not so much the deferral of play but the replacement of play during our working lives.

    Veblen has many interesting things to say about conspicuous leisure.

  • Rob

    How much of this can be explained just by increasing hourly productivity for the more time a person spends in work? i.e. someone who works 5 days a week is more than 25% more productive than someone working 4 (at least in most professions). That would lead people to choose corners – work a lot or work not at all.

    Or frontloading work in order to earn interest to fund retirement?

    • This would be worth measuring, but I think the opposite would show. In my experience, people who work part-time usually come, do their work efficiently, and leave. It’s the people working full-time that usually take the long coffee breaks etc.

      But another aspect is that many jobs require training, which is the same for part-time and full-time employees. So for a part-time employee the same amount of initial training would require more days.

      The signalling theory seems more plausible to me. A data point: I had a discussion with one woman about how important is her partner’s salary to her. Then I asked how would she percieve two different partners if both had exactly the same salary, except that one would make it in 8 hours a day, and another in 4 hours a day (so he would have twice the hourly wage, but would refuse to double his total wage by working full-time). In my opinion being the second one would be better, because he makes the same money and has more free time. But she said that the first one is better, because the second one shows bad working habits.

      It could be interesting to measure the price of signals, and how it differs across professions. In programming my personal estimate is that working 80% of time brings you 50-60% total salary, and working 50% time brings you 20-30% total salary, so the price of signalling is very high. I am not sure exactly what bad things it signals, but perhaps being different than the rest of crowd is bad enough.

      • David C


  • fburnaby

    I’ve spent much time recently thinking about this dynamic and I’ve come to the same conclusion as you, Robin.

    My ideal lifestyle would be one with work “sabbaticals” every few years, giving me ample time to experiment with myself learn of new opportunities, and take advantage of longer time-frames for different types of play.

    But I’m early in my career and it’s very obvious that some overtime worked consistently over several years now will not only pay me a little better now, but also has a multiplier effect by raising my skills and my reputation within my industry now, giving me a longer time later to use them. One of my co-workers has a sufficiently good reputation to get away with working whatever hours he pleases, and he generally does. For the rest of us, it comes off “weird”, which is seemingly more important than work quality.

    It’s not at all clear how best to trade-off these competing incentives.

  • Thanks Robin!

    I rather like your signalling theory of retirement. How could we test it? There must be some professions where signalling is less important. We would expect people in those jobs to take more holidays and retire later, other things equal. The self-employed, maybe?

  • I don’t understand why I should wait until 65 to do the things that I enjoy. So I am living the life of a pensioner now, at 36: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/life-of-a-pensioner/

    • I too, at 28, after a decade of working hard, investing wisely, and living modestly, have decided to stop working and live a life of leisure rather than one of increasing my net worth ever higher. It’s not for everyone, but it works great for me.

      And I’m not the only one. Start searching for people who have “retired” in their 30’s and you’ll see lots of people have chosen to do what most people think is impossible. Anyone with the intelligence and drive to have a successful 50 year career would also be capable of having a 10 year career followed by 40 years of living off of their investments if they just made it their goal.

  • Pavel

    When we are modestly under the weather, and can choose either to work with reduced productivity, or to play with reduced fun, most folks choose work over play.

    I believe that that is most easily explained by the fact that when I work under the weather the cost of my lower productivity falls on the employer, when I play with less fun, the cost falls on me…

    • But I think this same choice is made when the cost falls mainly on themselves.

  • Mitchell Porter

    Robin said “why, for example, doesn’t the idea of spreading a decade of play from age 65-75 across the four decades from age 25 to 65 appeal more?”

    Because no-one ever decided, as an ideal or as a new norm, that there should be a “decade of play from age 65-75”. The basic reason to save for your retirement is not so that when you turn 65, you can go play golf for a decade; it’s so you can stay alive at an inevitable time in your life when your physical and mental powers are no longer economically competitive. (The alternative is to rely on family, charity, or a state pension.)

  • Retirement also gives you something to look forward to. A working person, especially as they get near retirement age, can tell themselves that working 40 hours a week is ‘temporary’. That soon they will be done, and not have to work ever again.

  • Foster

    It’s a fundamental axiom of economics that humans prefer leisure (..self-directed activities/”play”) over ‘work’. It is WORK … if you would rather be doing something else.

    Therefore, humans should (..and do) minimize their work whenever possible within their personal circumstances and perceived options… regardless of age.

    If you enjoy an activity– it ain’t “work”… despite any circumstances of pay, sweat or stress. Many popular, leisure sports & hobbies would be considered work by those who don’t enjoy them.

    And a small minority of workers in normal paid jobs… actually enjoy their “work” and look forward to it daily & long term. These are the people who incorrectly trumpet how great “work” is for everybody.

    Ants & Bees are great lifelong workers — but to what end & purpose ?

    • KPres

      Most people don’t understand how much control they have over what they like and dislike. With a little effort, you can basically choose to like or dislike whatever you want, outside of direct physical pain (and often even including physical pain – think of an athlete enduring intense training). That’s because what we like and dislike are products of what we believe to be right/wrong or good/evil, both of which are ultimately fictions that we can choose to hold or not hold as we please.

      • Anonymous

        Interesting point. Do you have something empirical to back that up?

      • Matt Flipago

        Go tell the LGTB people that! I’m sure they would love to hear that.

  • Anonymous

    My ideal lifestyle would be wealthy without work. How are those automated collectively owned factories coming?

  • Lord

    Signalling suggests something offered but more accurately it is something demanded.

  • jb

    Interestingly to my internal psyche, this post made me angry. Which has never really happened before. So why is that? Well, I think because it made me feel helpless. Why does it make me feel helpless?

    Because (deep breath) – because i would stop working if I could, but I have bills to pay! I have kids to feed. I have college to save up for. I have to keep the house maintained. Sure i can save up money now, but if I use it now, I not only don’t get to use the money later, I can’t reap the benefit of compound interest. There is no compound interest on play. Which sucks, because it would make this whole thing easier. Instead, I’m stuck in a mode where I feel compelled to earn as much as I can, hoping that I’ll be well enough when I’m older that I’ll be able to play and enjoy it, instead of being sick and feeble. I can’t control what happens to me in the future, except to the extent I can invest for it. If I don’t invest for it, I run the risk of being old, with no savings, and unable to work. That would suck beyond anything else. To be dependent on the state? On my children? Egads! My brain recoils from the very idea. It finds the idea of taking that risk so absurd that I have a hard time being rational about it. (which, I guess, is why I feel angry).

    I work now because there are massive risks to not working. I work to steadily reduce those risks. When I finally have enough socked away to bring that risk to approximately 0, then, and only then, will I stop working.

    And in doing so, I take on another risk – the risk that I’ll work hard, defer play, invest in the future, bring that risk of penury down close to zero, and then get hit by a bus 3 days before retirement. And that risk sucks! It makes me tear up inside to think about how I’m adding risk in one dimension while I’m reducing it in another. God Damn It! But I can’t control the bus/cancer/meteor risk. I can barely control the penury risk, but at least I have some ability to influence that future risk with present actions.

    What a crappy place to be. But the only other option seems to be suicide, and I’m not ready to go down that path.

    • Anonymous

      Your children are your own “fault”, if you will, so that’s a luxury you’ve willingly chosen (or at least risked to get). Other than that, I understand your dilemma. I think your last sentence is crucial, I solved the dilemma by not discarding suicide as a option prematurely.

      The way I work is “bottom up”, meaning that I note for every week to what degree I found that week worth experiencing, compared to unconsciousness, and if I find, over extended periods, that my quality of life is negative, I adjust no matter the cost or risk. This has led me to work part time rather than full time, but at least this way I know I won’t get a cancer diagnosis at 55 and regret the last 25 years.

      • Anonymous

        To clarify the suicide part, if I ever found that my quality of life adjustments would not work out to get it above zero, I actually would kill myself.

      • Mark M

        Although I don’t really subscribe to the theory that all life is valuable or that life is always better than death, I often think it’s the wrong people who take their own lives.

        If you really feel the need to evaluate your own experience on a week-by-week basis to decide whether your life is worth living, you should seek professional help. Just because you can’t see how to improve your life doesn’t mean there isn’t someone who can open your eyes.

      • How do you know Anonymous hasn’t sought “professional help” and found it unhelpful? Or is afraid of getting involuntarily committed?

        A major risk of admitting we are suffering (and thereby indicating there are cracks in the cheery social policy foundational myths of our society) is that others will offer status threats in the form of offers of help. Folks tend to be aggressively optimistic on zero evidence to the extent that it support their worldview.

      • Anonymous

        Huh, it never occured to me that my tendency to monitor my quality of life could be a symptom of some kind. As for Sister Y’s point, I don’t really mind status threats as long as they are offers to help, not forced help. It’s true that I never found psychological expert help overwhelmingly helpful. Simply giving me money so that I don’t have to work would be very helpful, but obviously that’s not something society can condone as a general solution without breaking apart at the seams. I agree with Sister Y that there are optimistic myths that have a social function and are therefore aggressively defended.

    • Mark M

      jb – You’re living the paradox. We work now so we can play later. We often forget why we are working in the first place, and don’t realize that our priorities and desires have changed over the years and the “play” we envisioned when we started working may be neither realistic nor satisfying. Many people who’ve made work a priority through their lives lose their sense of purpose upon retirement and die shortly thereafter. Or start working again.

      It’s a balancing act. You need to enjoy your life while you’re living it. You can’t put everything off for “some day.” At the same time you can’t just let the future fend for itself. Your message tells me that you’re off-balance.

      I don’t have any words of wisdom about how to find the right balance, only that you must look.

      • jb

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I shall have to think on that further.

  • Matt

    When the retirment age for old age insurance was first pegged by Bismark or whoever, didn’t it equal the expected lifespan of the average male? So, 100 years ago there was no such thing as retirment, most people were dead before it happened. Your argument about signalling productivity during the prime of life doesn’t seem to accomodate the fact that retirment is a recent historical phenomenon. No need to resort to musings on cavemen or animals here.

    Also, if you are 65 and have a blue-collar job in the 1940’s 50’s 60s, doesn’t your productivity drop close to zero? Switching to leisure makes sense in this context. I think a large percentage of professionals that do primarily mental labor do not completely cease working upon reaching retirment age these days.

  • xd

    The signalling part is about the word “serious”.

    I reckon most white collar workers spend at most 8 hours a week creating something/transforming something and the rest is meetings and/or surfing the net.

    What I find interesting is the difference in opinion about this:
    Significant chunks of people delude themselves into thinking that they really are working very very hard when they are working way less hard than they would have been twenty five years ago in an equivalent white collar job with no information technology. Yet they take themselves seriously.

    Those who do not take this seriously are considered to be slackers even though they do the same volume of work. It’s all about the attitude.

    You see people walking down corridors with a piece of paper in their hand.
    Why? Because people might think they have nothing important to do (they probably don’t but they are signalling that they do).

    What I *have* noticed is that it’s kind of a taboo subject even among friends. Some of my friends can understand the point (that most of the actual work is done by software and the rest is just fluff but we’re still just as productive as twenty five years ago because it took all week to create a report that only takes a couple of hours to do now). Others, you can’t even discuss the topic without looks of horror and indignant squeals.

    Also: part of the signaling is that there is politics. There are many people who will use any excuse to cut down someone else because of perceived gain to themselves by making someone else look bad. (Quite how they arrive at the logic of how that makes them look good however, escapes me) and thus it’s not wise to signal anything other than “I’m working all the time. I love my work. I’m only interested in my work.”

    On a side topic: if we convert people into scanned uploads, how will we be able to tell that the scanned uploads are actually working and not playing since we cannot tell even today who is working and who is playing?

    • Anonymous

      Once we can turn people into uploads and copy them, it will be insane for society to make them work very hard. There simply isn’t that much to be usefully done for a society on this technological level, unless they’re playing zero-sum games all the time, which I hope they manage to avoid. I mostly hope the copies are made for the purpose of working somewhat, and have fun most of the time.

      • xd

        Well I hope we’ve solved most of our current problems by the time we are capable of creating uploads and if so then yeah I think I concur. If not, however, we’re probably going to want them to be doing a lot of thinking at high speed to solve some very large societal and ecological problems.

    • > On a side topic: if we convert people into scanned uploads, how will we be able to tell that the scanned uploads are actually working and not playing since we cannot tell even today who is working and who is playing?

      An upload can be monitored even more closely than a regular human: *every* aspect of its existence is computerized and loggable. Forget keylogging or web browsing records – you can log every sense! Depending on how deep our understanding of neuroscience is, you may or may not be able to go down to recording what percentage of an uploads thoughts are ‘work-related’ (perhaps pattern-matching on keywords or just general machine learning techniques).

      On the other hand, why would you bother hiring an upload in the first place? Just contract for specific results, like the way lawyering is moving – not pay per hour, but pay per contract or action.

      • John

        That’s a real firehose of data you’re talking about, so who’s going to drink from it? Exponentially more uploads?

  • So you can prepare to break bicycling records, of course.

  • SFMichele

    Unfortunately, while the ways of business and conventional work-life arrangements have *once again* (thanks to The Recession) been exposed for what they are, we are all willing to keep on going along to get along and mindlessly keep living by the old saw: LIVE TO WORK, not work to live.


  • In many careers, it takes a fair amount of effort and sometimes expense just to break even. Not only is productivity more than linear with hours worked, as Michael Wengler points out, but it actually is negative for some initial run. Work beneath a certain intensity just doesn’t pay the individual’s cost of maintaining the education, connections, skills, and other capacities to do the work. Since employers often pick up some of that cost, they are quite interested in the intensity of the employee’s work interest.

    This, I think, goes part way to explaining why people retire. That U-shaped curve is a golden chain. Taking off a year or two risks breaking it. There’s few careers where it’s all that certain you can pick back up. At the same time, most people don’t want to be forever tied to the intensity of effort that gets them on the right side of the curve. So, they plan on sticking to it long enough to gain the financial freedom to do other things. Those “other things” may look quite a bit like work. Sometimes, they are work. But a kind of work that doesn’t carry that pattern.

  • Arrow

    “But why, for example, doesn’t the idea of spreading a decade of play from age 65-75 across the four decades from age 25 to 65 appeal more? Why not want a week off every month, or two years off out of every eight?”

    But that would be …. French!

  • Charles E. Grant

    “He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief”

    People have other desires then play. A lot of us seem to want families. Either because we just like them, or because they are a form of social insurance for our old age. Full time work provides two bulwarks against the disasters that threaten our families: a steady income and health insurance. We tolerate some loss of time with our beloved families in hope of reducing (they’re bulwarks, not magic shields) the risk that our spouses will be left destitute, and our children sent to state foster care.

    By the time we’ve reached the traditional age of retirement our families will be launched and if we’re lucky self-sufficient. Then we are will to tolerate a few more risks.

  • Good article, it is a bit of a paradox, but I guess it highlights the importance of doing something you have a degree of passion about (if you can help it). I’m a fan of the line “follow your passion”, you need to have a an element of inflexibility in your approach though (and of course your passion needs to be something that you can somehow make money with)

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  • gwern0

    > Once as a young man working at Lockheed, I decided to switch from
    working 40 to 30 hours per week, to spend more time on my independent
    research. My rate of advancement in the company didn’t just slow by 25%,
    it stopped completely — I was seen as not serious about my job.

    Potentially relevant is this new randomized study on telecommuting for call center workers in China: http://www.econ.brown.edu/econ/events/bloom.pdf

    > Employees in the treatment group who wished to come back to work in the office full-time were allowed to come back at the beginning of September. To understand the characteristics of the workers who choose to come back to the office, we run probit regressions using whether a worker returns to the office as the outcome. The sample for returning to the office includes the 103 treatment works still at CTrip at the end of the experiment. Out of the 103 treatment workers, 22 opt to come back to work in the office full-time. As shown in column (3) of Table 7 Panel B, we find that employees who have better pre-experiment performance and worse post-experiment performance are more likely to return to the office. They are likely a group of employees who did not benefit as much from the Work-from-Home Program. We also find that married employees or those living with parents are less likely to return to the office. In-depth interviews with the employees as well as home visits suggest that these employees tend to benefit more from the Program as they enjoy spending more time with their family and have received support from their family as well.

  • In my opinion, anyone who works one day longer than they have to is in some way mentally ill.  I had an easy job (35 years) i enjoyed, and retired at 57 years of age. I probably would have went a year or 2 earlier but stayed on to keep youngest grown child on health ins while she went to college. many claim to be  fulfilled by work.  old rock stars, politicians, businessmen, actors, doctors maybe.  I know or at least hope they are fulfilled but i firmly believe that most of them do indeed have psyche issues.  I literally just thought of this example. ” MOST PEOPLE WHO PROFESS TO LOVE WORKING WHEN THEY DONT HAVE TO, ARE EXACTLY LIKE THE PERSON THAT SAYS THEY ENJOY SMOKING, IT JUST ISNT TRUE, SMOKERS WHO SAY THEY LIKE SMOKING ACTUALLY MEAN THEY DONT ENJOY THE FEELING AND WITHDRAWL FROM NOT SMOKING”
        Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
      There simply are too many ways to pass time. For me, simply being in the forest, preferably by running water, in addition to putting out effort to stay fit by excersizing and eating well brings peace.  im not going to move into the woods, but i happen to enjoy simple living. if you are “imprisoned by the thought of what to do”, well, thats your problem…good luck with that.   Other loves of mine? my grown kids, my granddaughter, internet, motorcycle riding.  i love that i seemingly have escaped the rat race. who knows what lies ahead.  but the next time i worry about spelling, grammar, overly politically correctiveness will be when i fill out my medicare forms in 8 years (hopefully…unless the big rats take it away).