Some years ago, I took a train to New York City from Connecticut in advance of a flight to Myrtle Beach, where I was to meet my family in Pawleys Island. As the train pulled into Grand Central Station, I arose from my seat and almost collapsed to the floor as my right knee gave out without warning. I limped around the city for a few hours before flying south, petrified that my planned golf vacation was in serious jeopardy.

On the recommendation of a neighbor in Pawleys Island, I made an appointment with a local orthopedic group. An X-ray showed some light arthritis in my knee and the doctor suggested a cortisone shot might ease my pain enough to play golf. “I expect you may need another shot in a year or so,” he told me.
That was 14 years ago and, despite an occasional dull pain in the knee, I have not come close to the pain I had before the shot. (I was on the golf course two days after the shot.) Three years ago, a physician’s assistant in the same ortho practice shot some cortisone into my other knee when it began to act up. “We can give you another shot in six months when the pain is likely to return,” he said. It hasn’t yet.

I thought about the orthopedic practice’s needle work last week when I returned there for a diagnosis and treatment of persistent pain at the base of both my thumbs. The pain was not affecting my golf game yet, but simple activities like turning an ignition key or a water faucet would send pain shooting up my thumb. I feared that, as the pain worsened, it would be harder to play golf.

I suspected arthritis because I had the same symptoms in both hands, an amateur’s diagnosis that was confirmed by X-rays. The hand specialist suggested a few approaches – from consistent use of ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) all the way to surgery. The pain relievers are a non-starter for me; I’ve had heart surgery and my cardiologist has warned me off ibuprofen because of its blood-thinning qualities. Given my prior experience, the mid-term solution – cortisone injections at the base of both thumbs – appealed to me.

Afterwards, the doctor cautioned that, “You will probably hurt for the next three days, and then I will know in about three weeks if the shots worked.” The pain has been slight over the first three days, and I am hoping that the three-week mark will bring blessed relief. My body apparently reacts well to cortisone.

We have an entire chapter about staying fit to play golf in our book, Playing Through Your Golden Years: A Senior’s Golfing Guide, co-authored by me and Brad Chambers, whose blog site Shooting Your Age, focuses on senior golfers. The book is available in electronic form for $3.99 from Amazon.

I retired from working full-time in 2005 at the age of 57. My 34-year career was mostly corporate, split between retailing and later a multi-national manufacturer. My last three years of fully engaged work was on a college campus.

The writing, research and travel necessary to support this blog, my monthly newsletter and my consultation with clients (free) became my retirement gig. I worked long hours during my career, but there have been some days during retirement that I have worked even harder. And I wouldn’t trade the activity of the last 15 years for a rocking chair and a daily round of golf – at least not while I am still compos mentis.

I bring this up because this morning I read a column by David Brooks of the New York Times that got my attention and made me wish I was 10 years younger and able to take on the challenge of a new business. Alas…

Brooks’ point is that the consequences of the pandemic will change the country’s economic fortunes, most likely for the better – with what he called a “Renaissance” and described as an “economic boom and social revival.

I forwarded the article to my working age children and their spouses because the underlying point is that opportunities abound for those with the imagination and energy to take advantage. Many of those opportunities will be related to in-country migration as millions of jobs need to be filled, as employees are told they can remain home to work remotely, and as the wealthy Baby Boomer generation – mine – continues to drive major segments of the economy, particularly real estate and healthcare. The new and younger at-home employees will want more space in their homes for an office – or extra bedrooms for the children they would have deferred because of childcare expenses (but now they can watch them while they work).

My fellow Baby Boomers are not going to give up on their plans for retirement, no matter the costs to build a home nor the incredibly slim inventories of homes for sale that have brought back bidding wars in many areas. We are not a generation deterred by obstacles that get in the way of self-actualization. And using our mental talents, even in the face of aging, is the very definition of self-actualization.

A “comfortable” retirement can have different meanings for different people. For some, it is a round of golf virtually every day, a rocking chair and a cocktail at 5 pm. For others, it is continual stimulation, mental and physical – and, maybe, a cocktail at 5 pm.

A year after I fully retired, in 2006, I played golf with my former boss. He asked me if I missed anything about my corporate job. “Yes,” I answered reflexively. “A secretary.” Now, 15 years later, my answer would be different. What I really miss, and have tried to make up for in retirement, was the energy of working on projects and developing new programs. Today’s retirees – and indeed young’uns with imagination and the desire to build something -- have many great, untapped opportunities ahead of them.