My friend J. wanted popcorn for the movies, or else I probably wouldn't have run into C. I hadn't seen him for a few years, since before he retired. Wildland firefighters are forced to retire earlier than most Americans; you're out by 57. This can be great if you're prepared for it, not so much if you don't have enough saved and have to look for some other way to pay the bills. C., standing in the concession line, didn't seem worried.
"Retirement is the best career I've ever had," he declared. "If you get to the point where you can retire, I highly recommend it."
Earlier this year, I rode the ski bus with a lively bunch of senior citizens. They were all retired; apparently they ride the bus to the resort, ski for half the day, and then go home to do whatever else they please. Although I don't want to hurry time, I felt a little jealous.
What to do if you're too young to retire? Practice, of course! Every once in awhile (not enough), I take a day off midweek. In the winter, it's usually to snowboard without the weekend crowds. In the summer, it's to hike or scramble up a peak.
Ski runs and hiking trails are quieter in the middle of the week. You can take advantage of the best weather, if it falls on a Wednesday. You can get a sense of what it would be like to be able to do this all the time.
Of course, there's lots of reasons not to do this, a busy fire season, meetings, or conference calls just being a few. But nobody is indispensable. The trails are calling. Get out there and practice.