WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
OR, WHAT EVER AM I GOING TO DO WITH THE REST OF MY LIFE
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Four years later the dust was well settled – so solidified its almost a rock (dare I say this?) and it’s time to edit the notes I’ve made along the way and hopefully make something legible out of them.
Whatever it may be, I would like to tell about the effect it has had on me. Maybe these insights would come in handy for others who shall one day be confronted by this immensely life changing event: maybe it could help make the transition less egregious, or more tenable or more palatable, or perhaps help make the adjustment easier for somebody. This would make my narration worthwhile which would please me.
AND MY STORY. I hope you find it as fascinating/informative/and as much of learning experience, yes, a journey” as I have.
Before I do anything, I’d like to take a moment to discuss a subject which has been near and dear to me for some time; DESTINATION.
I’d like to equate it with retirement. Sounds like a given to me.
It came up as a statement made by my Cardiologist so it was obviously meant as a serious philosophical approach to the question of life. He stated to me that life is a journey not a destination. Yah, it’s an old saw and often repeated but in this context I chose to think of it in a more personal context and as such, how very interesting a subject this was.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about it in search of the essence, meaning and implications of the word. I simply could not make any sense of it as a declaration for designing one’s life style. When I started writing about travel the meaning jumped up and hit me in the face; as a reference to travel and tourism I felt it became absolutely appropriate and clear to me. Not so meaningful with reference to ones life. The word Destination contains for me the image of a concrete and objective , an end. .. That would work fine for travel(therefore the journey)but for a life, not so much. The implicatin of end not so good… too final, too much like death
How about “life’s next chapter”? as being a less direly final a euphemism. I discovered this in a Washington Post article by Karen Heller which appeared June 29 in her article on Ashville, NC. She was voicing the opinion that it was attracting a great many older people consequently taking on the reputation of being a retirement community. Obviously it would be preferred that it be promoted by the use of a more positive slant so there we have it: “life’s next chapter”. That is so succinctly a wonderfully positive slogan. So, here we are again with the same conclusion I came to earlier, “Forget the Destination”. Amen.
(FYI: A lot of the thoughts and impressions I’ve come up with are encompassed in my travel essays which are contained in my blog: nerickson57.com (I mention this a lot. Just like what the Washingtoon Post does with Jeffrey Bezos. We’re anxious to get the message across).
I had not one iota of an idea of what I was getting in to. It was never a topic of conversation anywhere in my environment. Not on my radar. I didn’t know a soul who had retired – well, at least I had no acquaintances or friends who had done so. No family examples; my parents, no. My father never officially retired, he became sorrowfully redundant not once, but twice: the first time was due to a change of administration, and the other was due to a change in management. My husband? That’s odd – I don’t remember anything official or even much happening. My friends were mostly my age or younger, so no experience to share there. I was clueless.
And I have always asserted I wasn’t big on flexibility or brave in the face of change: Huh! I must have missed something: an ounce of sense perhaps?
Unfortunately I suspect retirement is not always an ideal arrangement nor essentially the best objective for many. A lot of people retire and seem to lose all purpose and impetus in life and just fade away or fall through the cracks. do not retire. I don’t think you should retire unless that was/is your goal In life (HOW SAD). Some never get there. – and must have a rotten job, or life, or you have become physically challenged at least some extenuating circumstance.
A major impediment to the assumption or consideration of the idea of retiring on my part was the fact I was privy to a long term and pervasive worry, one that hung over me like a dark cloud, involving the question of any formalities or so called celebrations which might be involved and I was not alone with this fear; I shared it with a number of colleagues. We had all been involved in Big Celebrations and we were distinctly not enchanted. I do think that had a very negative effect on our thinking. I remember being disturbed by this whole scenario and figuring there was a good chance I could never retire if I thought I would have to be submitted to this bit of salutary ritual. I for one, wanted nothing what so ever to do with any such thing? I am not dedicated to rituals and I possess a perfect horror of parties. So it’s not surprising that a retirement ceremony wasn’t for me. How could we manage to retire without having to undergo the business of a party?
Well, in the final analysis I did manage to evade this issue, and quite handily, thank goodness. But things have been going pretty much downhill ever since. As time passed I became more and more aware of the negative exigencies which retiring could contain. So now I’ve got the accumulated exigencies to tell about… that’s fine.
WHY IT HAS BEEN SO HARD FOR ME TO ACCEPT?
I have sensed an attitude in the past of “congratulations, you made it ”relative to the occasion of retiring. That gave me the impression that a primary motivation of the retiree was that they would be given the opportunity “to do what entertained” them – could this mean even taking on a hobby, or perhaps even considering it as a goal? This is not one of my values.
Did I say “hobby”? But, that’s exactly what I was doing. The library is what I like to do, what entertains me. What’s more, much of the thirty five years I was there was spent declaring that the library was my “PAID HOBBY”; there is no doubt that was a fact. At home, where one is meant to do all of that “what you’ve always wanted to do” stuff, is where, as a professed professional artist, I actually am forced to WORK. HARD WORK. What’s more for all that effort there was very little monetary return. All of which adds up to the fact that I am escaping at the library, and also incidentally being paid to do it. That sounds pretty optimal to me.
I must hasten to add at this point, as it is such a large part of my story, that I was at the library not as a professional librarian but as part of the support staff. It is for this reason that I could so glibly claim it as my “hobby”.
Also In regard to the library and retiring; I had finally achieved what I judged to be a desired level of equanimity. It took 35 years to make it but I actually felt in control, secure, appreciated for my presence and for the job I did. Maybe it wasn’t quite that simple, but almost. Actually this might be considered the optimal moment to quit -when you are ahead? (Ok, not always).
Surely the natural momentum from birth is to move forward – not backward. I figure this whole concept of retirement must be a cultural invention and is not natural. I always said I’d have to go out feet first. To me the major endeavor in life had always been self- improvement, life enhancement and accomplishment, to become the best at whatever you do. Not to get there and fall off the edge of the earth, not just to quit one day. That whole process strikes me as being rather abortive and actually negative. There are many objectives but I don’t think any of them was to QUIT. What’s more, I can’t accept the attitude that retirement is a goal. Boy, that whole idea just bugged me. Retired says aimless to me. The implication of finishing ie retiring, that’s the crux of the problem for me. All your life has been spent refining/upgrading/improving/learning/developing GETTING BETTER and BOOOOOMMMM! All that achievement/knowledge is for nothing . Every step I think should be a positive step forward but no more! Doesn’t make sense.–no wonder I felt bewildered.
On another more immediate level, my day had always been planned out for me, no questions asked. Just do it. Suddenly I’m stuck with designing my own priorities and schedules. I’m not used to having to be totally self-motivated(obviously with my art I am but this is a horse of a different color). My primary involvements Library/home did that job for me. For years I simply performed my duties as assigned: It was very easy: no big decisions required.
Suddenly I’m a nonperson. This is darned Traumatic, and just what Ares love most…(I’m being sarcastic).
All this “aging” stuff isn’t so hot either.
WORK offered me the opportunity to hide from reality: It was kind of like a womb. Personal problems (the bad kind) were at home. I could hide from nagging parents, hide from insidious demands on my time, it was a respectable and accepted excuse for not doing things I did not want to do, furthermore, it gave me no time to obsess over unpleasantness. It was a GREAT ESCAPE. Now I’m unprotected, vulnerable and unprepared.
RETIREMENT meant EXPOSURE.
It offered me the capacity/capability to keep social involvement at a minimum. I had plenty of what was for me satisfying interaction with people almost all day as desk work in the library was of that sort and I loved it. It is unfortunate that this human interaction was primarily impersonal a fact I hate to admit but I must. I admit I could hide behind the desk and basically just be an audience or an onlooker - like the work. May sound kind of antisocial and maybe being antisocial isn’t so good, but as an artist that’s the type of arrangement I needed in the first place as it permitted me time to paint.
At any rate, I have time to deal with this kind of thinking: no one to talk to. Perhaps if I did I’d get it off my chest rather than on paper. Would that be better? Too much time to introspect – result verbal diarrhea. What am I going to do with it all? This is an excellent opportunity to get myself into a state of frustration with the computer (I’ll say). I’m not going anywhere and I’m not doing anything- not as good as it looks. the computer has taken over my life – positive terms. I’m reminded here of all that I have done - and it’s been lots. I must not forget that.
At home I have the freedom to sit at the counter and obsess/worry with no time obligations. At work I had to FUNCTION. And dammit, I no longer have that defense.
In this era of loss of patrons and consequently loss of funds there has been a distinct threat of the necessity to fire staff - One way to effect budget deficits are redundancies – get rid of people. Sam says 42% of library work force is eligible for retirement, and doesn’t he wish they would? Well, I did my bit.
Uh oh…. Another downer. why bother to get up (not good). Could the idea of a Perpetual Holiday or Vacation have possibilities? I sure doubt it.
Aimless, yes. Add to that an even more succinctly negative thought: Friday at tea I was venting about my goalless, apparently aimless condition. The reaction of my retired friends; they offered to me the suggestion that they get on with their life by what sounds to me like creating “make work” (and with that comes the myriad lists). This concept sounded sad to me:this couldn’t be an entirely satisfactory solution. Today I’m looking at the newspaper cartoons CARTOONS! And I’m horrifyingly made more aware: there are a whole lot of things humans do that could assuredly be considered just that…..”MAKE WORK”. Do we draw a line, or not?
Which leads me in to the question of WORK ETHIC. No argument that in the presence of aimless and uncommitted time this element is a self imposed, self inflicted Pain in the neck, a distinct handicap, restrictive I am however slightly handicapped by having this built in work ethic.
To put it another way, it’s an encumbering inconvenience. There seems to be a little voice inside me which nags me to keep up with what it decrees to be my quota of accomplishments. if I don’t move and do something I become very uncomfortable and even guiltridden until I give in, locate a convenient task to do, and do it. The size of the effort doesn’t seem to matter however: the bigger and more worthwhile the job the less objectionable is the interruption.
I must be a victim because there is no denying that almost everything I do or care to do all tend to be on the order of work, or are work oriented. There should surely be no reason that one shouldn’t feel free to spend time doing something which has no measurable outcome, is free of goals or rewards or payback and without feeling the need to have to accomplish something.
I suppose to the end one has to develop one’s own balance, sense of purpose, satisfaction in performance, etc. I suppose it can be considered like anything else; it is what you make it, it’s your option, it’s up to you. This objective undoubtedly takes discipline. It’s far too easy to fall into empty space. This actually is an ideal arrangement for an artist. It was not having that benefit that resulted in producing less time committing therefore less involved projects. This was most notable when it came to any serious art projects.
It doesn’t help much I that I quit smoking and drinking martinis and took on a serious weight consciousness simultaneously. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. (I’m an Ares, we seriously never do anything small).
THE BOTTOM LINE HERE: OVERCOMING ALL THESE EXIGENCIES INVOLVES A GREAT DEAL OF ADJUSTMENT. We’ll get to that later.
TO DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY - RETIRE. ????? What a crock!.
A RUNNING COLLECTION OF RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT AS ACCUMULATED OVER FOUR YEARS.
I feel that some people have actually earned retirement: they deserve it. May actually strongly anticipate, plan and desire it – not me.
As I have so often repeated: this was my hobby I was retiring from and this is not even to mention all the benefits that were offered to me in this position. This was essentially a very good deal in the first place: the hours were reasonable, there was no commuting to speak of, I was surrounded with all of my favorite things: peace, quiet and books, with an objective I emphatically believe in and encourage,was dedicated to the dissemination of a message I was totally dedicated to,( information and knowledge), a brilliant variety of copacetic people , and probably even most important I was not dependent on the income. I feel somewhat guilty by all this. I was an overt but equally apologetic dependent, basically a stay at home mom which is such a rare occurrence currently. Whatever. You do what you have to do. And how could it be better for me? I’m sorry to think there are a lot of unfortunate people who may be locked in to jobs which are stressful, boring, monotonous, and demanding and this doesn’t begin to recognize the usual presence of a horrific commute.
YOU DO NOT RETIRE FROM YOUR HOBBY.
For the last year I have been WRITING. This I am happy to say came as a direct result of notes on almost every subject imaginable which I had been recording in my computer. Most of this came as a direct result of some empty time in which to think, and the computer became my sounding box. It proved to be such a convenient outlet for all of these imaginings and contemplations.
The addition in my life of this motivation is in itself such a blessing. Creating had always been my major interest and occupation: I painted and did my art work fine, but this presented a new and very much appreciated challenge, learning experience and an artistic endeavor as well. As an additional benefit it introduced me to, and I gained a new appreciation for, the computer. I actually broke down and bought my own computer. First of all it became the ideal repository for a great deal of printed material. As a further benefit it resolved the need for an outlet for all this creative effort - that would include the art work as well . it enabled me to set up a blog in response: nerickson57.com. This way it can also be shared and read with personal discretion and convenience It also is an excellent solution as a storage tool capable of secreting an impressive accumulation. Unfortunately this is only of partial benefit when it comes to my physical type variety. I might even discover something good with all this thinking, writing and blogging; something even “outside the box”.
You don’t know what you’ve married until you retire.
The library was a distraction: It took me out of myself.
I don’t really think I lost my identity when I retired. I don’t really equate my library involvement and hence identity with those other so called rather onerous excuses for identities: “being someone’s wife”, or “ being someone’s mother meant to describe one’s sole identity. This thinking is probably rather antiquated. The thought that I may have lost my identity when I retired is a bit of an exaggeration and is no problem actually. I have always had plenty of identities all on my own: retirement was just a matter of retooling.
A statement made by Tarquin Hall in his novel “The Case Of The Deadly Butter Chicken”. “Retirement is a kind of surrender: life should be a fight to the death”. (Amen!) On a lesser but an equally egregious scale, could it even be considered a defeat?
This is a quote from Dear Abby, 9/15,2014 which I think is especially relevant:
The topic of this quote was “empty nest” but I have traded that subject for that of “occupation or work”. ”…. Part of the reason you’re so rattled by the prospect of having an empty nest (no job)……is the CLEAN AND CLEAR SENSE OF PURPOSE childrearing (working) hands you. …faced with a tough decision…minor or consequential, you have them(the kids, the job) to ground you, direct you, and validate your purpose. Soon, without this clear path, you’ll have to come up with answers the hard way…… the easy answer is to have a DIFFERENT PURPOSE, one that feeds the same part of you that was so well nourished by motherhood (occupation).. .” (UH, OH…I CAME A CROPPER THERE. Didn’t do much of that, did I?)
I’ve heard some suggestion that the normal approach to this life change/action is to have deliberately retired from a job in order to have time to participate in all those enjoyable activities you’ve not had enough time to do previously, like hobbies for instance. But me – of course I have to do it backwards. I retired from my hobby – I have been declaring this fact kind of tongue in cheek, facetiously, for years and I am only just now realizing how very truthful this statement was. I’m complaining that all I do is work. Of course; I got rid of the hobby.
So, I’m in this fix. What have I done about it? The first thing of importance I have done is to establish the fact that I must keep busy.
This means I’m working. That’s fine, no doubt, but this consists of creating stuff which in turn has its own problem: this stuff can be severely space sensitive. To be blunt, it takes up too much space. What to do with it? I have never liked the process of promoting their sale: I thought I had escaped from that eons ago. Now I’ve got the added problem of physical limitations. Carting all that stuff around is hard, heavy work that I am no longer capable of doing. There is of course a way around it, but so far I’m actively ignoring the issue.
Solution: Find a replacement hobby? But what?
There is some good stuff:
AN ATTRIBUTE – and actually a positive one: LIBERATION. This is very good. It took a while for this one to sink in. Maybe I’ll come up with some more good qualities.
It does take TIME to adjust to the new lifestyle.
Another positive note and a certainty is that I escaped having to deal with snowy winters. Snow was a Herculean issue when I was working.in my working experience. The time spent attempting to keep track of the weather and its possible repercussion was a total pain in the neck. . Some few years ago I was almost killed in a totally unanticipated blizzard, that is why this issue seems of such importance to me. The benefit of my escape in to retirement zone has been somewhat ameliorated by the fact that there’s a good chance that the county ( Fairfax) has wizened up, admitted defeat, arrived at a modicum of intelligence, and has been closing down in anticipation of the event rather than after the fact. At any rate thanks to retiring, this whole exercise is very thankfully now a thing of the past: I no longer have to fret or agonize a bit. I might even sit here in the warmth of my home and enjoy the beauty.
what I can’t do: or maybe don’t want to do
I’ve expanded and decorated the house absolutely as much as possible in opposition to the fact that we always professed that home decorating was never finished. Guess we got that wrong; unless one can possibly count the “down sizing”. But that’s really too negative an operation to be considered a replacement for something presumably so beneficial.
I do not want to deliberately undertake a new “ learning experience”, I’m up to here with them. That means no piano…probably. I actually made an exception to this edict. I made a stab at learning Spanish using CD’s available from the Library, but eventually I realized the uselessness of this project. I could not come up with a reason which was on a par with the amount of time and effort I was putting in to it.
I have loved gardening but hopefully this year I really have learned my lesson and accepted the fact that the deer (and a bit the lack of sun) have won. Floating around in my brain is the idea of returning the carport footprint patio to the cars. That does leave me with the roof garden and maybe that’s enough. I do remember it was very nice to sit up there in the sun at least. (well, this was somewhat “pie in the sky” and I have succumbed to - a very slight bit - of embellishment and manicuring but it’s not July heat and mug yet).
Major entertainment: treasure hunting and spending a modicum of moolah on Sundays. The “trash lady” is gone - my favorite Sunday outlet and fun thing to do. (This was an old, leaky, virtually unheated roadside shack on route 29/211 dedicated to the purveyance of unwanted estate sale furniture and other junk. A visit was a seriously great treasure hunt). One of the “worky” things I’ve been doing is painting the distressed furniture, mostly chairs, I acquired from her for that purpose. This actually accounts for More WORK and a ferocious learning experience ick, ick. But I have managed to produce some really good stuff, I think, and I am actually well supplied with more “needy” pieces. Nevertheless the fact remains that I miss her. I do like doing a big of rummaging around on Sundays and she and Waccamaw, my other stand by being both cheap and innocent but satisfaction guaranteed, have both deserted me. I have loose ends and a frustrated purse string and I surely would like to a find a replacement for them, preferably closer than Route 11 on the other side of The Valley.
What I can do
I have time to sit around and contemplate (wasting time) which tends to result in remembering things I need to find and reintroducing things I wanted to remember. Such enlightenment comes as a mixed blessing because the search tends to proliferate into discovering more things that are missing. This whole enterprise can grow like Topsy unless you are brave and draw a line. Working saved me from any of this; therefore saving a lot of time. The more I Looked for, the more I couldn’t find. I finally reached the logical end; nothing was left unfound, all things were located and accounted for and in their place. What’s left must be of such nominal value that it should be tossed anyway.
I have time to polish my treasures and goodies.
I now can identify, and finish my undone projects; but do I really want to?
I can play with my plants and pictures; I suppose that means the upkeep and arrangement thereof.
And I have time to do my exercises- oh, and I do so love exercise.
I now have time to straighten out my life. Time to pare down all the extraneous stuff I’ve managed to stockpile and lighten the load. Disposal is definitely an issue around here. I feel I shouldn’t leave it all a great big mess for my offspring to contend with. That would just not be fair. I surely would be happier knowing at least some of this found happy homes. Maybe this is a project I’m meant to do when I can no longer move – boy, that’ sure wishful thinking.
Floating around Route 11: although the opportunity is limited, its always a fun thing.
I have time to sit around and smell the roses.
I’m pretty committed to the act of BUYING BOOKS FROM AMAZON. This is certainly an innocent pursuit, and supporting the book business is optimally desirable.. Who benefits mostly is the USPS – but that’s fine. I seem to have temporarily run out of titles that need buying - I’ve bought all the “keepers” I’ve wanted and I guess that could mean nothing interesting has appeared on the horizon recently. That’s not good.
I “Activate” at the library on a weekly basis – my pretense being I’m there as a distraction, this is a feeble attempt to deny the official category that of volunteer. I am of course different from most volunteers –yes. I went from being VERY “ IN” to being an outsider. I’d achieved the role at Reston of being a fixture and it was a long hard business getting there too. I’ve made my bed and I’ll have to lie in it, or something. The fact is that we, the staff, were prejudiced enough and frequently found it expeditious to blame any mistakes made on volunteers. You see, we really never envisioned ourselves as being one. I do not actually feel concerned that I am receiving the same criticism.
Everyone is so nice and at least pretend to tolerate this. But this in itself is sad – I am demoted to the position of second rate citizen and I just have to tolerate that. This is definitely a “frame of mind” and not a very nice one either. I am happy so say I am becoming less and less encumbered by that attitude and have moved on to actually appreciating the opportunity.
This is the end, not the beginning. That really is a depressing attitude and exactly how I have felt. But perhaps I’ve mellowed a bit. I am no longer being that melodramatic. Positive thinking is the only solution.
It has occurred to me that a great deal of this anguish might have been precipitated by three major events in my life, all of which occurred within a two year span; I do think that’s a bit much. To elucidate: 1/the loss of oxygen and consequent cessation of two of my favorite activities, smoking and drinking martinis; 2/acquiring Afib; and 3/the continuing presence of the stenosis which has actually been hampering me for some years. Obviously any or all of this would be guaranteed to have an effect on anyone’s lifestyle and therefore personal behavior. I called the resultant effect a “transformation of style”. But it’s not all bad: ridding myself of the first two opened up a rather substantial window of time, and proved a definite advantage when we our touring. The stenosis has never been any good for traveling but it’s just forced me to make appropriate adjustments as needed, and it could be a lot worse.
The cigarette ban has been particularly difficult for me. Smoking, along with the coffee and Sudoku, motivated me to get up in the morning. Fortunately I managed to quit virtually unscathed in opposition to all those scarey stories that are making the rounds: I experienced no negative physical effects or problems quitting but I’m still not entirely happy. I am now lacking what I considered my crutch and/or solace. I have come to the sad realization of a truth: habits seem to be a lot more difficult to break than to develop. Disturbing as it is, I’d say that was a very useful insight. I am learning to disregard the whole business.
9/16/2014 Would you like to know what I looked forward to? At this point, the high points of the day were; “Chopped”, the cable TV Food channel cooking show; attempting to lose a smidge of weight every week; less pain; Sudoku; wine; drawing; Ups.Fedex trucks with some neat stuff I’ve ordered; and now there’s writing. Not necessarily in that order.
And that’s enough enlightenment for now.
Ann Tyler says: ” I have to go on writing just because I have no hobbies.” Now that’s just a terrific bit of insight and incidentally very well expresses my own situation. I came in to this arrangement with the disadvantage that I was, in an oblique manner, actually retiring from said Hobby.
What I was retiring from was THE HOBBY.
The first thing I had to do was accept the fact that I no longer had one – a hobby that is. Once I had accepted that fact I was left with the reality of a rash of unfettered time and my choice of any so called “make work” which struck my fancy. This was not a pleasant proposition. The logical next step was to find an alternative or by replacing it with another hobby.
I was well aware of the popularity of the idea of “hobby” as a retirement goal: something along the way of “ …to do what makes you happy or what you’d like to do or what you’ve always wanted to do but never had time… also perhaps something you’ve always wanted to do as a job replacement… blah, blah.
It would seem that the addition of a hobby or two would not be remiss and probably one of the first things one is meant to do.
I have to admit I had a rather snobby attitude about hobbies so I had to convince myself that they could actually be beneficial and even desirable, and accept the fact that it was not a bad thing. I’ll just have to put some time and attention into identifying, developing and whatever else was needed to make one palatable.
I never had given the subject much thought; It was however apparently lurking in the back of my mind and would surface when appropriate.
That appropriate moment came, Like most of my thoughts, right out of the blue. I was in the midst of some vague unformulated thinking on multiple subjects when it suddenly occurred to me that I had neglected to count jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles when I set down my list of preferred activities. It’s strange I had forgotten them, as they are basic elements of my routine.
As they came to mind I realized quickly how inappropriate they were in the context of hobby material. They were missing something important. They just didn’t seem to deserve or warrant being thought of as such, but why not? What’s the matter with them: If they aren’t hobbies, what are they?
Okay, what exactly is a hobby? And with that the subject took off on its own. I had no idea it was such a complex issue until I started thinking about it…..and then it exploded.
What attributes might be considered appropriate for a hobby? I ran through a list of possible adjectives: “life sustaining or enhancing”. That certainly does sound formidable enough but perhaps a bit too much so. Maybe I’m being too picky. How about “something to get passionate about” -get a grip-maybe that’s too much commitment. Ah hah – commitment: that’s not bad. A mental, emotional, personal commitment maybe?
With that I got truly esoteric: Life enriching and augmenting; a purpose in life, a drive. Something to get passionate about? And maybe as a last ditch scenario, how about as a DISTRACTION? or “as a preoccupation”.
Stop the press! I think I’ve got enough adjectives to float a boat. To simplify how about this: Anything in which you invest a great deal of time, energy and heart with or without remuneration.
How many activities are actually impressive enough to fit in to any of those categories?
I came to realize that what we choose to call a “hobby” is essentially a personal decision. One person’s hobby can be another person’s most hated activity. Any satisfying hobby would be a deliberate, mental, emotional, and personal commitment which had been perceived, created and intended as such.
There should be an appropriate one out there for me.
How about traveling as a hobby? Too much effort, too much expense, but it’s a lovely occasional addition.
Could “thinking” be considered a hobby? S’pose so - it can certainly be a passion.
It was about this time that I realized I didn’t have time for one anyway.
I now feel acceptably well qualified to designate an appropriate sobriquet to my puzzles (mustn’t forget my favorite Sudoku) …… I came up with the term “PASTIMES”. They are certainly adequately time consuming; they are a part of a routine and they are without a doubt commitments but that’s where the comparison must end. There is no ameliorating quality here, none whatsoever, but I do so enjoy their company. I am pleased with that designation.
While I was at it I thought of other appropriate activities that could be useful and acceptably time-intensive alternative occupations to take on during one’s leisure moments. These might include: volunteer: a cause, perhaps a charity or public service; Enrichment classes; Crafts – (as I consider some of this as “work” I almost forgot their possibilities); Sports perhaps Yoga I apparently was prepared to neglect; special interest organizations loaded with like- minded people for friendship and companionship, You could always become an entrepreneur – set up your own business.. now I am hallucinating, but why not. It’s definitely possible.
Oh, and that lovely suggestion I had about getting involved in organizations of like- minded people. YES, that’s just super dandy, but I’ve had my fill of that enough to know that I truly don’t like organizations. That one I shall scrap.
There are just tons of possibilities now that I think of it.
That so called list, the one in which I purportedly enumerated activities of my free time, was lacking another absolute necessity. It took a long time coming – way too long a time: Reading! READING? I cannot believe it took me so long to remember this one, most probably because in my life it is so taken for granted. It’s much more ubiquitous an item than the three puzzles. It’s surely not a pastime, not a hobby either, so into what category might I fit it? Actually I think I’d say it contains any or all of those attributes combined. How could I possibly have been forgetting it? It’s like breathing to me: It’s my life, and that’s no exaggeration.
I stated at one point that I was ”hobbied” out, but guess what, I really don’t have any hobbies at all. But I sure have more pastimes and fun interests than you can shake a stick at.
So never mind – I’ve become busy enough, thank you. As it has turned out I actually seem to have no need for all this advice and insight myself. I think the primary benefit for me was to prove the truth and convince myself that I have a very excellent set up and nothing additional is needed. Remember, I’ve been liberated.
I have however come up with a very good list of ideas and I have hope that all of this soul searching and effort may in some way prove of benefit to others who might find themselves in the same predicament as did I; finding themselves with a great deal of aimless , “make work” time, and no adequate support for finding a solution.
Warning: it could impinge on that basic and wondrous attribute (of being retired) that I discovered: LIBERATION. In that case, forget it.
IT SEEMS THAT THE PROCESS OF RETIREMENT IS ONE HUGE ADJUSTMENT
And with that in mind
it is time for SOME ACTUAL EFFORT
A BIT OF PROGRESS:
Eventually I saw the light, picked myself up by the boot straps, primed the pump, and I was off……..
The momentous event that gave me the requisite JUMP START & PUMP PRIMING I needed occurred as I was perched in my customary spot, upon a bar stool at the kitchen counter and feeling a bit morose when I was struck by a flash of inspiration; I just had to do a drawing of a plant which happened to be sitting on the counter in front of me. I proceeded to produce the colored pencil sketch that ultimately was the necessary push I needed to get me started in to a period of intense creative activity that not only got me out of that bit of depression and aimlessness, but will likely serve me for the rest of my life. It just took a bit of a shove and a jab to get me started. Actually it reminded me of my primary role in life; doing fine art. I hadn’t done any of this in any significant amount for some time primarily due to its need for large segments of uninterrupted time which I did not have. This was indeed a welcome “wake up” call in more ways than one. The real value of this “flash of inspiration” business can not be overstated/estimated –my life is liberally sprinkled with such fortunate incidences. For this I am very grateful as I am well aware of the immense value such episodes have for me. I am well convinced it’s what keeps me going, keeps my brain active and alert.
I felt sufficiently loaded with energy and inspiration to locate and embark on a multitude of time, energy and intellectually inspired pursuits that would serve to keep me occupied for a significant amount of time.
Fun stuff first: This consisted of all the half done or barely started jobs I happened to have lying around forever just waiting until I had free time to affect their resolution.
One of these, and an enormous job it was, was the transcribing and putting into order all the material I had lurking in my computer. This consisted of a melee of ideas, thoughts, opinions, all kinds of collected minutiae that I’ve been diligently plugging in to the computer. This amounted to wads of uncoagulated material. I encountered a reference involving the issue of how the computer has become my life. If I said that during this period I had a good reason: what a job.
By June 2016 this processing had evolved in to composing essays – an activity essentially unfamiliar to me and I am very pleased to have this opportunity and experience. The essays which transpired from this effort needed a more formal repository and outlet. For his purpose I was encouraged to “launch” (admittedly this is a fine technical term but sounds a bit pretentious for me and my level of effort) a blog. Whatever I did, the result was a new toy: my very own blog. As I mentioned earlier, but as a reminder – never hurts - nerickson57.com. This in turn has meant a lot of technology issues to unravel. Altogether this is a very time consuming and intense occupation – computer prodding– so a vast success as a solution for to what to do with my “make/spare” time: quite adequate to keep me out of tons of trouble.
Another mega project has been the downsizing, decluttering, and moving stuff around the house. I do enjoy this but I tend to quickly run out of steam –it uses up my decision to throw out steam very quickly so I can only partake of this activity in short spurts. Big discovery: there really is a limit as to how much of this is actually desirable– emptying the pantry, for instance, has elements of the impractical – pantries are there for a reason. The same can be said for closets. I guess one just has to compromise.
Book shifting – this is a given and fortunately always available and comes with guaranteed satisfaction- so many happy surprises and rediscoveries.
All this is possibly a hidden asset and comes as a direct result of collecting things – there is always something to move or remove or dialogue with for that needed boost towards a sense of accomplishment.
LIBERATION The more I think about it the more of an asset I see this is. I might even consider it&&&&& a – TITLE EVEN. a SLOGAN or a KEYWORD at least.
June 2016 and the title is now LIBERATION Now isn’t that a hopeful note.
I had this up top but I decided it took away from my basic theme: it’ll just have to be happy here. I still consider it arguably the very most important element of this particular equation and the logical companion to any retirement.
It does come with a caveat however, as apparently do all good things.
As for “time constraints” and the lack thereof; there are no longer ANY job priorities. There is altogether perhaps too much “you can do anything you want”. It comes as a direct result of implied unregulated free time. And contains the need for an essential response, the need to develop self- discipline some form of “time management”. Establish at the very least at least a minimum of schedule priorities.
Suddenly ones TIME MANAGEMENT is no longer a responsibility of ones place of employment. Decisions of this nature are left up to personal discretion and choice. I was very poorly prepared for this state of affairs. Life at the Library by necessity ran by use of a very strictly regulated schedule. Time discipline was of the essence in order to meet our public service needs. This had to have had some impact on me. Could this result in a higher sensitive and insecurity when confronted with much uncommitted time? Perhaps I am more dependent on schedules. I know I am extremely committed to being on time.
Now I am left to my own devices and decisions are entirely up to me; no longer to my job, not to my family---me. I must establish my own guidelines for living…it’s my life, all mine. Identifying and performing an agenda can prove tricky and requires self- motivation, energy , will and determination. It may be that you can do anything but there’s still a need to discern and impose some few restrictions and schedules. This is not easy. It is important to establish priorities. (In the past my priorities favored the household needs, my own interests and desires have tended to come last. This is obviously not ideal, is not necessary and is unfortunate. Overcoming this problem should be a primary goal as I pursue the process of rearranging my schedule.)
Fortunately or thankfully I feel energetic: Maybe too energetic. All this energy can end up in scattering/splintering objectives. As only the presence of the unstructured definitely can have this result. I can easily find myself scrambling around trying to keep my head above water in order to tie up all the loose ends. Mostly I have been able to keep this under control. Another consideration on my part is the fact that I have always assumed I work better under pressure. That as a motivating factor is no longer even partially present. I don’t know what affect, if any, this will have.
Identifying and performing an agenda can prove tricky and requires self- motivation, energy, will and determination. Maybe you can do anything but there’s the need to discern and impose own restrictions/schedule. This is not easy. The presence of the tendency towards the unstructured can. It is important to establish priorities. Fortunately or thankfully I feel energetic: Maybe too energetic. All this energy can have the effect of scattering and splintering objectives (I’ve just discovered that as an issue in Sudoku where being methodical is of prime importance. This was a very good hint) . I can easily find myself scrambling around trying to keep my head above water, tying up all the loose ends. Mostly I have been able to keep this under control. Might I say I’ve learned some TIME MANAGEMENT; this is always a good thing.
The most important time issue for me is its effect on my artistic creation. Time constraints can be a real detriment containing major negatives. My experience has been that they create a very undesirable pressure in relationship to the question of finishing for the day. The pressure can result in false moves and careless work the undoing of which means extra toil, tribulations and stress. Backing up on a piece is definitely not recommended and can actually guarantee an unsuccessful result/outcome. That is so bad for the artistic temperament I don’t even want to mention it. I now have learned to take extreme caution. I am very careful now to leave the current project when I am as positive as is humanly possible that it is entirely under control. If I’m not absolutely certain of that I obsess so bad I can’t concentrate on anything else. When I became more time committed -with the Library I had to accept that situation as well as the fact that I couldn’t deal with it. The bottom line was that I quit the serious art stuff (this was primarily watercolors) but to be fortuitously replaced it in with other forms of art work and eventually with my library cartoons which are, in a very small way at least, an acceptable replacement as well as a delightful record of my time there as well as a substantial part of my image as an artist. The bottom line here is that freedom from time constraintspermits me to do my art work with more ease and satisfaction.
This looks like a very good example of a perceived negative being replaced by an unexpected but advantageous positive.
Eventually I came to realize that I had made an immense but maybe too good an adjustment to the fact of there being no time restraints: maybe I’ve even becoming addicted to it. I’ve noticed recently a distinct aversion to dealing with appointments. I have also sensed an attempt to slow down. Well, that can’t be bad.
And here’s a response to that… I’ve graduated to a new level of inertia, I think. Well, maybe not full blown but sure can’t deny “slow”. Maybe it is true: maybe you can adjust to anything. I may never get another thing done, but so what?
IDEAL GOALS for the unfettered LIFE:
Make a point of going OUTSIDE EVERY DAY.
GET RID OF HASSLES.
But remember, I am LIBERATED: I don’t have to be anywhere, or do anything. AMEN!
Maybe I can survive without constantly “accomplishing”. Maybe I can just proceed and do things as needed, as desirable, whatever floats my boat at the moment. (Boy, that sure isn’t me.) This would make retirement particularly beneficial and quite an accomplishment in itself.
7/3/2015 - I found myself making an amazing declaration this morning: THE SKY’S THE LIMIT.
In opposition to all this euphoria, there are always some restrictions available. There is, for starter, the question of STUFF/JUNK/CLUTTER: and now its good time to undertake to tame this rather overwhelming condition into which my home has developed.
It would appear that I have spent my whole life accumulating. Now, in turn, the rest of my life will be spent discarding it all. That is certainly ironic and an excellent example of a negative use of energy distribution. This however does encompass/offer a very worthwhile benefit; the possibility of achieving a sense of accomplishment/ achievement the easy way – just go tackle closets. (This is a definite plus in my case. Those who are of New England heritage come equipped with an inbuilt sense for a need to “accomplish” - you are forced to feel you’ve done something before you can relax or doing something fun.
So you get all this junk so that when you retire you can spend your time moving it all around. Mmaybe the term could better be “ Repositioning” it, actually. Junk moving is very satisfying and can often be combined with a chance to toss something: that’s worth a GOLD STAR at least. This is all a matter of personal attitude, of course.
(3/2014 I may have relaxed at least a tiny bit about this need to activate but ----on the subject of tossing… not all of it actually leaves this house. If a real decision doesn’t seem imminent or is slightly tentative, I shift it to a “half way” location. Eventually there comes a definite time when it has definitely outlived its usefulness and I can proceed with impunity to discard it.
This takes the stress off the job. Some things are just not easy to get rid of. Never mind ++ We’ll worry about this later.
Tossing stuff is a further step to liberation.
Wardrobe: Throw everything out. Sadly it’s taken all these years to acquire a goodly selection, only to end up tossing most. This is definitely not very efficient or cost effective. I think if I’d known all this - Waste time for nothing – what? Effort: my attitude? Sure, that may have been Counter- productive, but I had to have clothes. Actually as a question of being fashionable, I don’t think clothes accumulation is exactly what is recommended by the fashionistas - things do go out of style: but not in my house. See, obviously it’s time for a clean out.
6/10/2014 it has suddenly come to my attention that I am undergoing what might be considered an adjunct personality change. Another one? – ( But those were syndromes anyway, so its ok.) This was definitely unexpected. It came in the form of a BODY MAKEOVER/SHAKEDOWN &REVAMPING and REALITY CHECK/WHOLE BODY MAKEOVER…….. TRANSFORMATION OF STYLE WHAT a fun discovery.
Basically this is in response to my change in lifestyle.
At the library I was pretty much visible only from the waist up, therefore the emphasis of my wardrobe was from top as most appropriate, which could logically be reversed to bottom now that I was at home. No more bright tops or the showy earrings which were my erstwhile trademark. None of this was any longer “me”. And then a basic truth started to surface, a lot of the clothes just won’t fit in to my current social atmosphere. Actually they were totally not needed I see something happening here well worth encouraging: an extreme change to simple is better. Good chance to toss everything.
Let’s develop that thought a bit more: the fewer items I have in my closet the more likely I am to wear any particular garment.
First went the earrings… I weeded out almost the entire accumulation thinking that I’m basically getting rid of clutter-ideally to end with just those I tended to wear. This is just like what I’m doing with the clothes. This also eliminates a lot of hassle/decision making over what to wear: there’s less to choose from.
I might elevate this job and call it “ A refinement of style”, certainly to the bare basics EXCEPT FOR SHOES…… I had a Zappo’s orgy and out went the “fringe” shoes and in came some real style and pizzaz. Yeah! I’ve ACQQUIRED A SHOE FETISH…. These nifty ugly foot wears I’m loving, and they are shoes which can go absolutely anywhere – no fear of overdressing. Furthermore this satisfies the need to collect, is innocent and is still so satisfying.
Less clutter= more visual appeal fewer clothes, success (actually that can produce an even bigger choice problem)you may have kept only what you love so how to decide? obviously the answer is to cut it all back to one of each and let it go at that).
9/2015 There was a short burst of increased activity in the process of discarding, encouraged by the appearance of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing magic of Tidying Up”. I was intrigued by the fact that she is Japanese, and the Japanese are notorious for being frugal, so what could a Japanese girl possibly have to toss? I had to find out. Her book caught the imagination of many and has resulted in a world- wide fad. I found it made such an impression on me and I found it so stimulating I shall probably write a paper on my impressions. In the meantime I’ve had a real good lesson in getting rid of things ; everything that doesn’t give you joy(some things just don’t admittedly), and things which have served their purpose like heartfelt gifts which actually never found a niche in your life or surroundings(this idea I found especially beneficial and guilt freeing.. this book proved an enormous inspiration for clutter removal. had a real good lesson in getting rid of things . It could be a reckless pursuit. There are some things one does need- my gardening shoes are gone – oh, well. One of her clients managed to empty her closet so I wondered what she did with that space: she turned it in to a shrine (she’s Japanese). Well?
A MAJOR CONCERN and ELEMENT in this and for this weeding process Along with this goal: art supply inventory and getting rid of extraneous, and slide and photo weeding. Huge elements both and very difficult to solve – only doable in very short spurts.I did the supply inventory – done did, now what? There’s still a lot of slides and photos – that’ either hanging or I’ve given up. Don’t know. I have tossed tons of both: this is an inbuilt detriment of “hard copy” material> it’s so overt, it’s so right out there and space consuming. I have divested myself of a huge amount of all this stuff. I can state at this point, July 2016 4 years later I have actually almost managed to reach a level where I am not quite as disturbed by the element of “clutter” in my house and that is AN ACCOMPLISHMENT> OF massive proportions. The art supplies issue? Who knows?
Back to the fine arts (unhappily we are unable to title this painting even tho it is) with at least 34 colored pencil whatever. And 10 finished pieces of painted furniture)what to do with this all this wonderful creation is a slight problem but I sincerely don’t care. To me it’s most important to be creating-beyond that? Don’t I say early on that getting rid of it is what I’m meant to do when I can no longer move? Something will work out maybe. A siege of research and practice with caricatures- started as a refresher on the drawing of faces .After all, this is my destiny, my training, my life’s major effort, my heritage, my ability and a hint at immortality to boot, so I must and shall remain diligent in the endeavor.
I just thought of a really obvious issue – and those are certainly the ones most easily overlooked but which might cause a goodly amount of anxiety or stress –it is essential to arrive at a fair allotment of household activities –a fair distribution I encourage this. I hate to call them chores, tasks or upkeep. It is wise to keep in mind that there is a great deal of possible but not necessary work involved with a house, and people have varying degrees of comfort levels concerning them. Mostly I choose to disregard them, only doing spot swipes when I get disturbed, and that seems to work just fine.
So, how many other of those “hidden” priorities do you suppose there are? Of course, as your life changes so do your basic maintenance needs so I suppose this shall be a rather ”fun” element forever.