Group activities are fun. Most of the time. I think they’re more fun in retirement. When you’re working you always have to be patient and flexible. We got pretty good at faking these characteristics on days when we’d rather just shake some common sense into people. Or get in their face and yell. We didn’t. We held ourselves together until we were in private and then blurted out our fantasies over a bottle of wine. or two.

Working with groups of people during the work week made us shy away from group things on our down time. We simply couldn’t handle the dynamics of groups for leisure events. Yet most of our friends are group types. We call them herds.

Herds are interesting to observe. There’s usually a self proclaimed leader and followers. There may be a wannabe leader who tries to undermine the real leader. Some of the followers may enjoy the disruption. Mostly they just carry on. Over the years we have infiltrated many herds as our diverse circle of friends span numerous herds.

In the early days it was the baseball herd. We enjoyed their company on Sunday’s before, during and after men’s 3-pitch. There was a lot of drinking and joking. But other than Sunday’s we didn’t see that herd much except for one couple (who introduced us to the herd). Others from the herd did lots of things together: kids activities, date nights, and even vacations. That herd invited us to join another of their herd activities: a monthly euchre night. That was fun too. And each time we went we enjoyed the outing but we were amazed how much time they spent together as a herd.

Another fun herd was the boaters. They all hung out at the marina and spent hours on end together. Their summer boating adventures turned into winter events and now snow bird lifestyles.

Here’s the thing about herds: spending so much time together means that everyone knows everything about the other. And jealousy/envy can take root over time. As herd outsiders we can watch the drama unfold and then step out with impunity. Herds love interlopers as they provide fresh news and entertainment. As interlopers we don’t need to share deep dark secrets because there’s not enough time. It’s perfect for us.

The other thing we weren’t able to handle well was conformity. Clearly we aren’t rule abiders. Not that we defiantly break rules or cause trouble, but we test limits and question what we think are useless rules. Leaders of herds are generally wary of our type since we will challenge their authority if necessary.

Now that we’re retired we have a little more tolerance for the herds. We no longer spend our days navigating group dynamics. We have more brain capacity for being followers.

There’s a vast difference between a group and a herd. Groups get together for activities and fun events; you can be in several groups at one time. Herds are a way of life; same group to do everything with all the time. We can do the group but not the herd.

Yesterday we joined a group bike ride. It was the herd from our pickleball group. We play pickleball 2x per week. The herd plays everyday and sometimes multiple times per day. They do all kinds of activities together.

It was great to have an organized bike ride into a new area. We really enjoyed it. I’m grateful for the herd letting us in.

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