Some Kind of Heaven, or Hell, but who’s to say?
I was watching ‘Some Kind of Heaven‘, a 2020 documentary film about The Villages, which is the world’s largest retirement community in Florida. Within minutes I had to check the title again, because I felt like I was watching ‘Some Kind of Hell’ instead.
Here are some of the anecdotal quotes which opened the film:
“Everything here is just so positive, so… I’m lost for words. I don’t see the slums. I don’t see death and destruction. I don’t see murders.”
“Everything you want is here.”
“If you try to come off as you’re bored, then you are full of it, because they have everything here.”
“There is no place like this. This is Nirvana.”
“You don’t need to go outside The Villages. You would never have to leave.”
Well I don’t know about you, but if someone told me I would never have to leave a place, then hell yeah, I think I definitely have to run—fast!
But after the show ended, I took a step back and figured it was not all hell either. It is not for me to judge for anyone else if this is hell or heaven. There were many people who do enjoy their retirement life at The Villages, and they took it to Google to make themselves heard. It’s not all melancholy like the background music might have you think.
That said, as I watched the seniors in the film who struggled to fit in, I felt it connected to something inside myself as well. The Villages is a place where you can possibly do everything, but also a place where you might struggle to do nothing. Because when you look on at all the fun others are having, all the energy they are exhibiting on the outside, you have to keep up or be made to feel left behind. Or out of place.
The question (f you are in a position to ask) has to be: “What kind of retirement do you really want?”
Retirement is still a long way off for me, but I’m getting a sample of it. I decided to take a few weeks off from work and start a few things I’ve put aside for too long. I imagined that I’d be going out a lot, to more distant places, savouring the scenes and documenting them. After all, that’s what many people seem to dream for their retirement—to travel a lot.
I enjoyed going to a new park, and sitting for an hour looking at nature. I enjoyed going to the science centre, and watching kids run about. I needed to recharge and I got what I needed. I felt at ease. But at the same time, I couldn’t do that all the time. Obviously I can’t say for sure how I’d feel after decades of working life, but I don’t think I’ll want to just “have fun” in my retirement. I think I’ll still want to remain connected to the real world, to reality, and give what I still can to the people after me.
But that’s just me. If you were to retire in a month’s time, what would be ‘Some Kind of Heaven’ for you?