Rabbit Holes in Gettysburg

After enjoying the novelty of “sleeping in” after years of waking up before the sunrise. I found myself setting my alarm, yet again, but this time it was to prevent myself from waking up at the crack of NOON.

Things were starting to sag, time was starting to drag and I started to wonder, how I was going to survive on the meager retirement funds I was now bringing in.

I figured I could do one of two things, lay back and wait for “The Bells to Toll” or “Live like someone left the gate open”!

The first time the alarm went off was just an annoyance, how dare you wake me up! I’ve done my time! I’ve paid my dues! I deserve better!

Well, since I’m up….What do I do now?

That can be a hard question to answer, especially if retirement crept up on you with little notice or planning. After two cups of coffee, my eyes slowly started to open again and I could feel my legs.

I went off to our local Value Village, kind of a thrift store, to look through their old books; I always like a good read.

I came across one book about the US Civil War titled “The Civil War For Dummies”; it seemed to be waiting just for me!  Certainly the Dummy part.

To be clear, I never had an interest in the subject before but for some reason I was drawn to the book.

I started reading all about the war and was fascinated by what I read, it become a passion. I spent hours learning everything I could.

Summer was in full swing, my wife and I had our annual trip to North Carolina planned to visit family.

Hmm, why not make a detour to Gettysburg?

It was set, we stayed a couple of days, went on the tours saw all the sights.

This was something that was never on my radar, yet there we were visiting one of the most important sites involving the US Civil War.

Both my wife and I had a fantastic time, learning the history, walking the streets of the old town, stopping in at the local pub for a beer or two, what a perfect way to spend some quality time together.

On our return, I searched everywhere I could for authentic memorabilia that I could obtain as a souvenir for this new found interest.

An interest that started with an innocent little visit to a thrift store book department.

I found an online auction selling all kinds of period pieces from the war. There was one document that particularly caught my eye, dated November 19, 1864. It was a detailed handwritten transcript of court martial proceedings regarding 4 Union soldiers who left the ranks and got up to no good in the neighboring town.

The penalties they got after sentencing were equally fascinating, like having to carry around a 35 pound log all day!

I won the auction for $50, got myself a frame, carefully found a way to straighten the documents and then had a blast creating my own art piece that hangs above the desk where I write.

So what did this little adventure mean in the end?  

To me, it was an eye opening experience on what can happen when you keep yourself open to new ideas and experiences, particularly in retirement, where the strict shackles of 9 to 5 no longer exist.

What do I do now?  The answer clearly is, depending on your circumstance, whatever you want to do!

Retirement can be the time to do things you always had in the back of your mind but never had the time or energy to pursue.

Travel, golf, fish, antique, read, write, exercise, meditate, volunteer, renovate, relocate, learn a musical instrument, dance, yoga…..

Whatever turns your crank! There are no shortages of ideas…

It’s true that whatever you decide needs to be something you can do within your means, but most ideas don’t cost a penny.

Sometimes, you just never know where a rabbit hole will take you.

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln

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