Monday, 8 August 2016

So how does semi-retirement feel?

Picking up this theme of how it feels to be retired.  Let's start with how it feels two weeks into retirement. As I said it's slightly strange in that I would normally be on holiday now so it doesn't really feel like retirement yet. One thing that is different though is that if this were a normal 6 week break, I would have been going into work during these first two weeks getting some things sorted for the start of term.  I would also have been doing work at home; working on things such as the Christmas play, preparing lessons and sorting the many administrative tasks that a deputy head has to organize. I did go in on the first Monday but essentially I had pretty much tied things up so leaving meant leaving and so I started these holiday weeks feeling relaxed and even had the luxury of being able to sort out household type tasks.

Doing these things are not important in themselves but it's the fact that I can focus on stuff other than work which feels so liberating and unusual.  Also I'm not starting the holidays thinking "oh no, only 5 (4-3-2-1) weeks till we go back," and knowing that there is work to be done hanging like a black cloud over the summer holidays.

Ok, so how does retirement feel? It must be different for each person but something strange happened to me once I had made the decision to retire back in September 2015.  With the decision made there was a countdown and a countdown in months goes by very quickly.   An event that even ten years ago seemed remote was now very real and very close; a good thing you might think? A chance to relax and do the things I wanted to do.  So why the sense of foreboding?

I think for me retirement with its sense of being something remote that you never thought was actually going to happen suddenly took on some of the connotations of death.  Death is something we know is going to happen but we ignore it and say to ourselves that  we will face up to it nearer the time, hoping that that time never happens.  But death does happen, and retirement happening was a reminder that the other difficult event was now the next big thing likely to happen. Retirement first , then death round the corner, no wonder I didn't want retirement to happen!   The other association retirement had with death was the feeling that stopping work was almost an admission that one's usefulness had stopped, and just as squid mate just once then drop dead to the bottom of the ocean having performed their useful societal function, so I saw myself dropping to the floor of existence devoid of purpose. Over dramatic? Of course, I taught drama, but these were some of the fears and associations playing around in my mind in the run up to retirement. It was probably these fears and associations that made me sign up and train as a volunteer with a local charity and apply for a part-time job, so that straight after retirement from full-time work I was able to feel that I had still had my uses. This all sounds a bit morbid and I know that retirement is also a thing of great promise and even excitement but for me there was that reminder at the back of my mind that time does indeed march on and all things must come to an end. Ok that's the maudlin stuff out the way let's be positive because my retirement adventure is just beginning.

Putting some things in place has worked for me.  I am glad that I have some part time work starting in October using some of the skills and experience that I have accrued over thirty seven years of teaching.  I will still be working and volunteering but at the same time I will have time to do things that I want to do.  This squid doesn't want to drop to the floor just yet. 

Until the next time.

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