I have just had a horrifically jangling realization. What I have been thinking about most all summer (since my thoughts were not wrapped up in the myriad things I have to keep track of – and understand – in my work) is retirement. I’ve spent a lot of time reading what others are writing about retirement, and then sharing with you the nuggets of wisdom I stumble upon. I’ve spent hours trying to find a way to weave bits of tales together to make a story whole. And, yes I know, I talk about retirement a lot. I admit it. A lot. More than I talked about the Beatles when I was 13. Even more than I talk about Barack Obama.
Think back to a time in your own life when life was giving you such a clear “this is your life changing” message. I remember all of the transition times. There was moving from elementary school to high school, anxiety fueled by all of the times I’d heard my teacher say “wait until you’re in high school, they won’t coddle you then”. From high school to university, with the same warnings about how tough it would be. From being single to being married; there’s not enough to say about how tough that transition can be … and sometimes you even reverse it and then repeat it again! The transition into parenthood is an ongoing thing because it seems that each time my children were going through some transitional phase in their own lives I got literally dragged into it. From school to work. From one job to another. And now from a working life – which has been my mode for much of the past 40 years at least – to the life of a retiree. With each transition there were voices – inner and external – saying “the times they are a changin’ …” and meaning it. And with each transition there’s a period of time when obsessing on the change – fueled by anxiety and excitement both – was a way of life. This is another one of those times.
Just as – to tell the truth – it was a little tiresome hearing endlessly about adolescent angst (I had three kids who were teenagers at the same time) I’m pretty sure that it’s tiresome for those who love me to keep hearing my thoughts on retirement. What’s a girl to do though?
I was back at work today after having most of the summer off and I started out with the conviction that I wouldn’t raise the issue of retirement at all. Lasted less than five minutes. A colleague dropped by and the first question was “so, how many more days until you retire?”. All day long people stopped in to ask how the summer had been and what I was planning to do in November (Antarctica – in December – is calling me if only I can find a cruise that doesn’t double it’s price because I’ll be travelling alone. If you’d like to join me, do let me know!). Okay, it’s true; partly they were checking out my office to see what they could “lift” as soon as I truly did leave the building. This is one of those corporate culture things that happens where I work … a small round table being particularly high on everyone’s “find it” list
Maybe now that I’m back to work it will be easier because I just won’t have enough time to think about this. Maybe. But there is that stack of books on retirement that I’ve got waiting for me, more postings to write, more planning to do. I know that two months will fly by, I know that my friends, family and colleagues will stick by me. But oh my … are they all starting to wonder if I’ll ever be interested in anything other than retirement again?