I am thinking of retiring. From what? you might ask. In my defense, I must say that while it’s true that I haven’t written a newspaper article in more than a decade, nor do I have a regular teaching job anymore, I have produced three books in the last six years and I still give about a dozen lectures or workshops a year. Clearly I am at most only semi-retired. But should I retire completely?
The current virus lockdown has cut into my lecture schedule drastically. And the accompanying ennui has given me lots of time to think, time that could have been used for writing. But I can’t get motivated to do much because of the lack of a deadline. Work with no deadlines, no bosses requiring that a schedule be kept, nothing really pressing except the need to get a little exercise and find something reasonable to eat two or three times a day, is somehow not work for me. Could I be getting bored? Better check that into the equation. Boredom.
There are lots of ways to help people during this pandemic. Am I a viable helper, though, at my age, which is a risk factor for the virus? And when it’s over, if I retire, what will I do to replace those activities, should I find some? I guess there will still be people who need help. And then maybe I’ll be more welcome, when the disease is not an issue. But is there anything I will want to do? The mind goes round and round with this. The possibilities are endless. Let’s add that one into the equation too: possibilities.
I think, on reflection, the problem is not that I don’t have anything to do. Really it might be having too much time to think about it. Time, which in my life, I have never before had. That kind of time is a luxury – I see that now – but it can also drive you crazy. Of course I could keep myself pretty busy just cleaning my house. But who wants to? So I continue to fill my time wondering what full retirement would be like.
The truth is, though, I know exactly what that life would be like. I’ve just described it. And I think it is not the healthiest outlook for the aging process. So I do not plan to consider that option any time soon. I guess I’m glad I’ve had this opportunity to taste what retirement would be for me. Perhaps that knowledge is the silver lining in all this. But, now, could we stop? I get it already.
Norma Libman is a journalist and lecturer who has been collecting women’s stories for more than twenty years. You can read the first chapter of her award-winning book, Lonely River Village, at NormaLibman.com.