During the months leading up to my retirement date I had quite a bit of trouble simply wrapping my brain around the concept. It’s not that it was a new idea. I had been thinking, praying, and talking with a few close friends about it for over a year. It’s not that I didn’t think it was the right move. It seemed most of the conversations I had with close friends, and so many of the little “moments” and circumstances served to confirm for me that it was the right thing to do. Right for the church and right for me.
However, there were two big concepts I had trouble with:
How did I get here so fast? And, what next?
The first issue is nothing new. I’ve known people who have retired and they seem so…well, so old! I had (have?) a hard time using that word (“retirement,” not “old.” Ok…”old” too) in reference to myself! The older I get the faster time seems to go by. It’s cliché, I realize. But when something is so universally true, that’s what happens. It becomes cliché. But it’s a cliché that I feel in the depths of my soul. I mean, if this life is a bridge, I’m probably somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way across.
The second issue is a little more specific.
My church put on a lovely reception for Kathie and me that was very fun and touching. I remember thinking I should have set up a big poster with FAQs because I think I answered the same question several million times: “So, now what are you going to do?” I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I tried to answer it.
Is it typical to ask that question of someone who is retiring? Maybe it is, but I don’t think I was prepared with a good answer. I had some vague idea of some of the things I wanted to do but the truth is it was very vague and I was primarily looking forward to the free time to not worry so much about doing but to let myself just be. I had a hard time putting that thought into words, and looking back on that sentence, I realize that it still doesn’t sound like much of an answer, but there it is.
So now, about 7 weeks into this thing called retirement, I have found that, generally speaking, the adjustment is an easy one. That’s not to say that I feel like I have completely adjusted or that I have a better answer to the question, “What next?”
One adjustment example: I spent almost one whole day going through the 600 or so photos we took on a recent vacation. I culled (down to about 150), cropped, edited, ordered, captioned and uploaded to FB. (You can see them here.) I was surprised to find that I felt guilty about spending so much time on something that probably wasn’t important to anyone but me. But then again, that’s just the kind of thing I was looking forward to having the time for!
During the first few months of retirement I have also sensed the need to separate from my church for a time. This is both for me and for them. I’ve been attending a different church every week. While this has been good in some ways for the short term, it is not healthy over the long haul. (Plus, apparently Kathie hates it!) It will be another adjustment for me, when the time is right (…and if Kath has her way, the time may be right sooner than I thought…), to become a church member instead of a staff member. I haven’t been that since 1980.
I’m at the point now where I’m feeling the need to organize my time rather than just doing whatever whenever. So, my next step is to add some structure to my day. I want to write for this web site. (I promise that all my posts will not include this much “navel-gazing.”) I want to work on some musical projects. There are some other things I have in mind, but in order to be productive in any of these areas I hear that it’s important to have some discipline…my favorite thing…
Bottom line: So far, retirement is good. I recommend it.