“Sometimes, as I drift idly on Walden Pond, I cease to live and begin to be.” When Henry David Thoreau wrote these words in the mid 1800s, he was lamenting American materialism that was becoming ever more apparent in the wake of the Industrial Age. Now, almost two hundred years later, we can only look back at Thoreau’s time with nostalgia for what we see as a simpler life. In Time for Wonderlust: Planning Your Retirement Renaissance, Forrest J. Wright reminds us there is life after work, but we have to plan for it. This well-researched book is written in two sections. Section one about how to save toward retirement, how to wean ourselves from conspicuous consumption, and how to feel comfortable that what we have is enough. Section Two is about what to do with that leisure time and how to enjoy the rest of our life, without that conspicuous consumption to which many of us are sadly addicted. We also learn about philosophy and how it applies to each of us. If we can learn how to be comfortable with who we are without ever trying to earn the respect of others based on what we have and what we drive, we will be the better for it.
In Time for Wonderlust, Forrest J. Wright shockingly tells us that “people in wealthy countries are continually complaining about the absence of free time and the resulting stress, but when offered a choice between using productivity gains for more free time or for more hours of work, workers will oddly choose more work, even when their basic consumer needs are fully met.” Even more surprising, Wright tells us that by age sixty-five, many Americans are afraid of retirement; they “cannot conceive of any meaningful alternative to work, other than death.” We have to train ourselves to take advantage of “cultural leisure.” Toward that end, Wright offers us a history and study on philosophy. After all, the Greek word for leisure, schole, is the origin of Latin scola, German schule, and English school. Under The Search for Meaning, we follow the path of philosophy, from ancient times through transcendentalism up to today. We learn how philosophy and religion sometimes correlated well, but at other times clashed mightily. I loved the chapter on existentialism, and how it relates to each of us. I didn’t set out to read a book on philosophy and existentialism, but I learned a great deal about how to take advantage of that which we can see, and that which we cannot see. Whether you are close to retirement or it is way off in your future, this book will prepare you to take advantage of your every waking moment; how to not just “live” but to “be.”