Despite the fact that Jimmy and Rosalynn had to face some real big problems, Jimmy Carter found involuntary retirement to be a blessing instead of a curse. Indeed, Carter told Barbara Walters that compared to all the other things he did in his past, including being President, retirement is the best time in his life. He feels that many Americans approach retirement with a great deal of dread, uncertainty, and fear when, in fact, all those feelings are totally unjustified.
After his retirement in 1981, Carter has done everything from monitoring elections in developing nations to negotiating peace with warring factions to attending funerals of foreign dignitaries to building homes for the homeless to being spokesperson for numerous charitable causes. He and Rosalynn also stay physically active by skiing, swimming, and mountain climbing. After all this, he still finds time to surf the Internet and keep in touch with children and grandchildren in many parts of the world via e-mail.
In an interview with Ron Hogan of Amazon.com, Carter extolled the benefits that he and his wife reaped from being retired: "I would say that everything we now do that is productive and helps other people, or that's enjoyable and benefits ourselves, are new ideas that we never had before we were retiring. I never thought about being a professor, and I'm now in my 16th year as a professor at Emory University. And I've just finished my 13th book, when I never thought about being an author."
Carter added, "We never had climbed a mountain, and now we've climbed Mount Kilimanjaro; we've been 1,100 feet above the base camp at Mount Everest. I went up and down Mount Fuji with Rosalynn after I was 70 years old. I never saw downhill skis until I was 62 years old and Rosalynn was 59, and now we go ski in Colorado a couple of times a year. Those are the kind of things that we've taken on that we never dreamed of doing when we reached retirement."