I've resurfaced in time to acknowledge that August 1st was one year of retirement. This anniversary feels more meaningful and celebratory than my upcoming birthday cause I've had lots of those. Good opportunity to take stock.
Early on, right before I actually stopped working, I wondered what the challenges of being able to do whatever I wanted almost every day would be. Wondered if I would finally learn to meditate (no) or drink in the day time (every once in a while. it's 3 p.m. now and I'm drinking a beer. that's what writers do). I suspected I would get bored and be inspired, be lazy and be active, travel far and wide and burrow in, watch a lot more movies and, I hoped, live my own story. That pretty much sums it up, although I've done a lot more reading than movie-watching. Books come to me. Not sure how interesting or inspired my story has been, but I certainly have been living it.
And I have yet to be bored. Daring that precipice and engaging "not knowing" have been a gift. There has been a lot of good nothing and plenty of somethings. Life is different now. I am different now.
I'm no longer working against type. Or my type has changed. I thought all that paying attention to details and the intensity that propelled my work life might transfer. But now I swim in the ocean of conceptual, big picture, creative possibilities and am no longer driven to push the rope uphill against an avalanche of resistance.
My relationship to time has really changed. Life is much more spontaneous. I get caught up in the day, going from one thing to the next without regard to time. I love looking at the calendar and seeing many days ahead with nothing planned. There is so much going on in my head and out. I hardly have to plan. Things present themselves - invites out, workshops, camp-outs, meet-ups - or they don't, and I read or putter. A big day can be getting some really good berries on sale. On a Friday I'll have a list of a few things to do on Monday. But then they might not get done for a week. So what. Things seem to get done when they really need to. I haven't missed a deadline yet, although I have come close because I'm just not "on time" anymore. I'm off time.
I've become patient with change. I recently came across this bit of inspiration that resonated:
True change isn't a light switch. It's an intention you hold. It's a dance with the circumstances that present themselves.
So I'm no longer looking for the big something that comes next. I'm open to whatever good is looking for me. And there has been plenty of that. Seems passive, but it's more in tune with how reality actually is, unlike in the workplace where everyone pretends we can control circumstances more than we can. I just keep doing what comes to mind, feels right. While I have some ideas about what might come next, I'm only thinking a few months ahead now (increase my Spanish proficiency) with vague notions about anything after that (travel alone in a foreign country). I might combine the two, although having traveled so much while working, I'm actually paying more attention at home. Traveling is less essential to maintaining a sense of adventure than it once was. Now I have more of that on a day-to-day.
Writing has been grounding. It has created an outlet for my internal dialogue as well as being something in and of itself to learn about and get better at. Admittedly, I veered a bit from chronicling retirement per se because living in retirement is about more than the absence of work. Like getting older and embracing certain realities. I'll probably be doing more of that. Those posts were among the must popular.
I'm still about emergence of authentic self, just no longer necessarily in relation to the past work life. A year away from stopping work, experience is starting to stand on its own. It is less a comparison to what was and more about what is. I'm still on the frontage road to zen. And probably always will be. I can't wait to see what this next year holds. I hope you'll stick with me on this continuing adventure. Thank you all for being there.