I was up a little early today due to a doctor’s appointment. My house is not too far from an east-west artery road that takes a lot of people from the nice houses to the highways and on to work. In the summer, when the trees are out in full, you can’t easily see the road. But, right now, there are no leaves and I could see the lines of red taillights of the various commuters leaving their homes and heading off to whatever “work” they do.
I wonder how many of them were already planning their day. How many had already checked for mail and messages to see what emergency was going to require their attention right when they get to wherever they were going. How many were secretly hoping for no accidents or anything to clog traffic. And how many were just counting the days – until their next vacation, or until the weekend or until they could just leave work behind forever.
I guess when one goes through life transitions, there are just multiple periods of adjustments. I wonder how long it takes before something truly becomes “normal”. With the cold weather and grey skies, there is little to do outside and I’ll admit that there are more times when I’ve been bored and started to wonder if I shouldn’t be doing something else.
And, since it seems that sometimes what you send out reflects back and life starts sending you messages, I had three encounters this weekend where this subject came up.
Ran into a guy at the grocery story who was also part of the class of 2019. He’s not working either but also mentioned that it has been a little boring lately. But he didn’t seem to be in a big hurry to find anything either. Not much to learn there other than the things I’m feeling are not unique. There is some adjustment period when you go from working to not working.
I wonder if this is a little like the scene from the Shawshank redemption where Red is adjusting to life outside prison and makes a comment about not being able to go to the bathroom without permission. (I did say just a little like since work is really not a prison) But if you’ve been conditioned to get up every morning and get in a car and drive to a place and stay there for the entire day, it kind of takes time to break out of that mindset. Out of some primal need to go somewhere and get out of the house.
Anyway, at the checkout line, I ran into someone who I didn’t know that well from work but I knew her name. She knew my face as well and we talked a little bit about the place and what I was doing. She’s been there 40 years and took the part time weekend job just to have something to do. She talked about retiring but is afraid to because she’s not sure what she’d do. Talks about having no hobbies and that her kids are old enough to not want to do things with her as often.
That kind of made me sad. It seems like the worst thing that can happen to you is to have your entire identity tied up in your job. Maybe that wasn’t really the case but if you have no interests and/or hobbies outside of work, then it is essentially what you’ve done. I suspect there are many like this and for them retirement would be a scary concept.
The third encounter was at the dentist’s office on Monday. The dentist is a funny place. You only go every six months but it always seems to feel the same. But there is always that little “catching up” where you have to give the cliff notes version of the last six months. I had told them in July that I was out of work but now, after another six months, this seems like a more permanent thing so I said that.
The hygienist then launched into a story about her father who faced a similar situation – downsized from his job. Tried another job but didn’t like and then tried retirement and didn’t like it. Ended up going to work as a plumbing advisor for a big box hardware store just because he was bored at home. Worked there for a couple of years and then tapered off into a real retirement. Perhaps he was finally ready to move on and just needed a few more years to keep busy doing something.
I have thought about finding something that might be fun to do but it still comes back to whatever I do impinging on my new found freedom. I like being able to go to they gym most days. I still have my dancing and I like that I can keep standing lessons. Certainly I don’t want to take a job that would require juggling lesson times.
So did the universe deliver any cosmic answers with all these random encounters? Not really. I guess maybe we have all been conditioned a little bit – idle hands are the devil’s workshop and all that. There is just this thing that says you should be working. If you don’t have a job, then you’re just lazy. It seems like we don’t get to a point where if you’ve put in enough years, it is OK to just say “I’m done”. Even if you haven’t reached an age where retirement is more normal.
And I think I’ll leave with that quote. Just got to work through that feeling that I should be doing “something”. In reality, I am doing things and they are things that bring me joy and happiness. And that should be all that matters.