Today’s New York Times has an article on retirees who form “virtual villages” to combat loneliness and get things done.
Frankly, I don’t get it. If you live in a city, you already have a virtual village.
Some things are free. You can get groceries delivered to your door. I don’t take any meds but I could find someone to deliver them if I needed to. Besides Fresh Direct, we have InstaCart (which will do drug store runs) and Task Rabbit.
Some things cost money. You can take classes all over town. You don’t need a “senior” approved class. I live near a world-class pottery studio and am a fast bus ride way from all kinds of art classes, comedy classes … anything a person of any age might want.
Some thing are free. Many community colleges and universities allow people over a certain age to take or audit classes for free.
I belong to a regular gym. I take classes. Sometimes I can’t do all the moves – not because I’m old, in most cases, but because I didn’t do enough gymnastics as a child. No problem. Few people of any age can do all of the moves and all the instructors will suggest modifications. I also work out on my own with weights. I started working with a trainer just over two years ago, when I had an injury and couldn’t find a competent physical therapist.
My city has tons of Meetup groups. They don’t ask your age. If you don’t want to go to a movie alone, join a group based on your interest, not your age.
We also have tons of opportunities to be useful with volunteerism – everything from tour guiding to animal rescue.
If I lived in the suburbs, I’d need a car, which costs $5-10,000 a year. Most cities have amenities for people over 65. Lots of things are free or almost-free, including food delivery.
Often you can get things free, too. I sometimes volunteer to usher for plays because if I don’t like the play, I can always say, “Well, at least I didn’t pay $50 and up to be annoyed.”
Mostly what bothers me is, why are these villages for retirees? Most retirees are healthy and able-bodied. Why are they subjected to stereotypes of aging?
In fact, I’d like to ask them, “Why retire?” I’ve tried a few times and got totally bored. I’m too busy to socialize with my age-mates at a happy hour or a movie. I spend time with people of all ages when I have something in common with them besides our decade of birth.
Right now I’m cursing the Internet because I can’t figure out how to get a blank page with a header in one of my blogs. I’m revising my website, which means rewriting pages and struggling with the demands of a new WordPress theme. I’m making videos, which is a hassle because I live near a noisy bridge in a noisy city and have to remove the background noise.
And if I didn’t have these things going on, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of a murder mystery that is a rare treat, not something I can do each day. I might write a mystery or do more comedy… but probably not. I love my pottery class but I wouldn’t be in the studio every day. There’s something about time stolen from work, contrasting with work, that leads to real enjoyment.