The New Wonder Years?

Wonder Years

Early retirement inspiration comes from many different places, and this one comes from an episode of the TV show The Wonder Years, that my good friend Anthony suggested at dinner a couple of weeks ago.  Despite the series popularity, I didn’t really watch The Wonder Years when it was on the air. Like everything these days, the complete series is currently available on Netflix.

In this particular episode, titled “Coda” (S2E7-spoiler alert), Kevin feels that his piano lessons with Mrs Carples aren’t doing him any good – especially relative to his rival, Ronald Hirschmuller.  As the going gets tough, Kevin decides to leave behind mastering the piano and instead focus on football and other interests. (see IMDB).  In retrospect, the adult Kevin narrating the episode looks back on the lost opportunity wistfully.

The episode is about the disappointment we feel when we give up on something as a kid and how we later wish we had continued.  It opens with a narrative that says, “When you are a little kid you are a little of everything. Scientist, philosopher, artist, athlete, and scholar.”  The world is full of possibilities and you are told that when you grow up you can do it all.  Inevitably, however, “Growing up is about giving up those things one by one.”  We come to focus on the few things that interest us most, we get lazy and stop practicing, or we find an acceptable vocation that becomes our life’s career.

But there are always those treasured elements of your childhood self that you wish you had kept with you.

The opportunity in early retirement is to have the time to once again indulge in those things we left behind, or discover new activities that give us the same childish joy. Sometimes when people ask me what I’m going to do with my time, I say that “it is a great big, interesting world and I’m looking forward to taking it all in.”

Being released from the daily world of work – which isn’t so much burdensome as it is time-consuming – allows one to get back to the the scientist, philosopher, artist, athlete or scholar we probably still want to be.  Fifty+ hours a week at work limits the possibility of being a widely multidimensional person.  It’s an indulgence, but many people who retire early talk about the opportunities they are enjoying that wouldn’t fit into a normal work schedule.  I’ll be on the search for these soon myself …

What are the childish activities that you are looking forward to enjoying?  Here is a link to my post last week on “What will you do in early retirement?”

Image Credit: ReallyLateReviews.com

10 thoughts on “The New Wonder Years?

  1. One of the crafts I would like to up when FI, is photography… It would be nice to be able to try and make an income out of it.

    The wonder years is one of the few series they played on TV that we watched with the family. It gave – I thought as a child – a unique look into the magical USA. Great to see it back

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    • Photography would be a great hobby, especially with all of the digital tools that are available today. I would be especially interested in taking a class in Photoshop.

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  2. So nicely written! And exactly as you describe, the opportunity to decide for yourself what to make of the day is exhilarating! Now there are so many things that bring that childlike exuberance, I can’t decide what to do next! Ain’t it grand????

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    • Now I’ve got one more month of work, I need to start planning which obvious to tackle first. I’m looking forward to taking some classes in the spring, but haven’t looked up what’s available yet.

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  3. Giving up the trumpet in fourth grade is a disappointment that I still care with me today at 29…even though I hadn’t thought about for awhile until reading this post! lol

    When you said “Being released from the daily world of work – which isn’t so much burdensome as it is time-consuming…” is so true. I absolutely love my job and career path; however, I would much rather have the time it robs of my days and use it to spend with my wife and son. That is what motivates us to achieve FIRE.

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    • I guess my disappointment would be team sports that I was involved with until junior high. Removed when I was a freshman in high school, and I never pick it up again. Still enjoy going to games, or playing golf, or skiing – but when you’re a kid is a great time to be involved in team sports.

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  4. You have just inspired me to watch The Wonder Years again. The theme song started playing in my head! It’s almost heartbreaking that as a child the world is filled with limitless possibilities, only to discover that you can only handle so much in potentially one profession/vocation/passion, etc. Now, I find myself finding ways to pare down what I focus on even more to make sure I’m giving 100%+ energy. If I place myself in too many activities & interests I find myself run down emotionally and physically. It will be very neat to tap back into all those possibilities again in early retirement!

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