Columnist Steve Lopez and the ‘spiritual side’ of retirement – Reuters

Steve Lopez knows he’s running out of time.

Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist and four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, isn’t yet collapsing in the grave, but he’s 69, with two artificial knees and a pacemaker.

“Although it’s a scary thought, when you get to where I am, statistically speaking, you’re in the last quarter of your life and most of it is behind you,” he said.

But there are still so many bullets on her to-do list.

He could retire and start scratching a few, but he’s hesitant. “As a columnist, I had a quasi-public life,” he said. “After this, who am I going to be?”

He wanted to know before the health problems affecting his parents intervened.

“I mentioned it to everyone I considered peers based on their age, and they all had the same conversations with themselves and others about the right time to leave.”

As a columnist, I had a quasi-public life. After that, who will I be?

To find out why some people retire and others don’t, and what makes retirement fulfilling, Lopez spoke to dozens of seniors for her new book ‘Independence Day: What I Learned About Retirement from Some Who’ ve Done It and Some Who Never Will.”

He interviewed a priest who said he would retire “to the cemetery” and a winemaker who said they would retire “into the vineyard”.

He interviewed a man who retired but soon found himself working as a cashier at a cash register to make ends meet.

He interviewed Mel Brooks and Norman Lear, both in their 90s and working.

Financially, experts say you can retire comfortably, and Lopez said he didn’t want to diminish the importance of understanding that. “People who had money revel in their retirement,” he said.

But mentally, how do you know when it’s the right time to leave?

“There are a lot of books on retirement financial skepticism,” he said. “What about the spiritual side?

CNBC Make It spoke with Lopez about coping with retirement and finding purpose after working out. The interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

“Be ready to adapt”

Aditi Shrikant, CNBC Make It: You’ve interviewed dozens of retired people. What lessons or tips stood out to you the most?

Lopez: The most important lesson I learned from my experience is not to be cavalier when leaving. You have to have a real sense of how important you might be, and I think there’s a human instinct to be relevant. And whether you matter to your cat, your dog, or the people in the association, you need to build a life that gets you up in the morning.

The best advice I received was to be ready to adapt and expect the unexpected.

There was a guy who retired and wanted to travel the world, then found his daughter and granddaughter needed help. He said he didn’t know anyone else who had the retirement they had planned.

You will be doing yourself a favor by anticipating that this phase of your life will be all about change and that some will be good and some will be difficult.

There are those who can fly and there are those who step back from the remote control and catch up on old movies. But we’re running out of time, and it’s important to be smart about who you are and adapt to the time you have left.

And another tip from a rabbi who retired and then decided to go back to work is to try and taste what you think will take your time in retirement to make sure the thing you idealize is worth your time. .

Shrikant: Have you considered this advice when planning your own retirement?

Lopez: Well, the pandemic shut down my office. Closing the office meant working from home far more than ever in my life, and my wife is a freelance writer who works from home.

We were sharing an office for the first time in our lives and we don’t live in a sprawling mansion so there was a lot of jostling.

This pandemic served us as a glimpse of what our retirement would be like when I spend more time at home. My wife said to me: “If it’s the preview, I don’t want to see the film.

My wife said to me: “If it’s the preview, I don’t want to see the film.

You must manage and adjust these types of relationships. She’s working and doesn’t need me to sit around asking her what we’re going to do next.

I still work three-quarters of the time, but I mostly work from home. We’re still adjusting to that, and I’m finding that I like playing guitar and I’ve improved a lot in a year.

I am not feeling well [learning] a language, and I would like to travel a lot more. This has been more difficult due to pandemic restrictions.

I hope next year I will go half the time [to work]then I begin to walk away slowly.

“Retirement can and should be full of surprises”

Shrikant: How have relationships played out in the lives of the retirees you spoke to?

Lopez: I interviewed people who feel lonely and who feel isolated and depressed. I’ve had people wishing they had even more time to do everything they did in retirement.

Of course, it’s a big blow for anyone to lose a retired spouse, and there are those tragic cases of people who retire to spend time with a spouse and find that a health issue is getting in their way.

This woman, Nancy, Florida, didn’t expect her husband to die as soon as he did. She didn’t know she would fall in love again, and she didn’t know she would lose the second man in her life. Then when I was talking to her the phone rang and it was her new boyfriend.

Retirement can and should be full of surprises, and you have to be able to ride with them.

Shrikant: Have you found that men and women manage retirement differently?

Lopez: I have the impression that women are much better than men in this area. Men are more impulsive and less intelligent than women.

There was a professor in Brown [University] who told me that he sees that with men. He teaches geriatrics. He talked about how women throughout their lives are much more multitasking than men, and because of that, they are better trained to manage time.

They are more likely to understand things, act with foresight, and make reasoned decisions about things.

Women are stronger than men. We’re too fickle and unfit for retirement, and I saw that in the women I interviewed for this book.

Shrikant: You interviewed quite famous people. What did Norman Lear have to say?

Lopez: I was interested in Mel Brooks and Norman Lear not only because they are celebrities and Hollywood legends, but because they work in the 90s.

[Lear] says life is about that little space between what’s over and what’s next.

What happened yesterday is over. Yes, he created “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” and produced movies and did 60 years of groundbreaking television, but that’s over and he doesn’t know what’s next.

Shrikant: And what about Mel Brooks?

Lopez: Mel Brooks said: “I understand you want to live in Spain and research your grandparents’ hometowns, but how long do you expect to stay there before you find a story there?”

He asked me how long I would live in my new home in Barcelona, ​​learning to cook tapas, until I thought, Hey, there’s a good story in there; let me call my friends at the LA Times.

Or, maybe, he’s starting a podcast. In my case, I also tinkered with this idea that as I get older, aging can become my specialty.

I could write a column on aging in California. I could call it “The Golden State”.

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Columnist Steve Lopez and the ‘spiritual side’ of retirement – Reuters