HARDLY WHAT I’D ANTICIPATED

Here I am, a little more than three years since formal “retirement,” though I hardly feel retired, whatever that is.

As I mentioned the other day, I’d long anticipated this time in my life as one of intensified spiritual and literary focus. What’s been happening is something altogether different, and from my inner perspective, what I’m feeling is a sensation bordering on spiraling out of control. Or maybe it’s just sliding into oblivion or the like.

Earlier there were a few patches where I had a taste of what I thought my life would be like these days. Much reading, attending free concerts at the neighboring university or jazz night at a now defunct downtown spot, preparing dinner and then meeting my wife when she got off work (well, at least she’s home full-time now – yay!). But then I started spending much of that space working random shifts at the newspaper before the pension kicked in and then, well, as I’ve also noted, I took up new, unforeseen activities like singing in a first-class choir, swimming laps in the indoor pool, and blogging plus its related social media.

The daily nap, for several reasons, just hasn’t materialized, and I’m not taking days “off” to head into the mountains or rove the seashore. (You did catch the glitch in trying to get away, as if I’m still tied down to an office?)

My joke is that I’m not retired, it’s just that my work’s not generating an income. Think of Donald Hall’s distinction among Work, Jobs, and Chores – or what Gary Snyder’s called the Real Work. If I look closely, I have to admit to spending more time on that focus these days, no matter how much more I’d wish to devote.

Could it be I just have never intended to follow a course that more closely resembles the stereotype of retirement? Things like golfing and extended leisurely travel and nights playing cards at the club? Let’s be honest, that’s not me. By the way, gardening is hardly a hobby around here, so don’t consider it along the lines of retiree at play. In the ashram, we called it Karma Yoga — part of life in our holy boot camp. The mere memory of that puts other things in focus, reconnecting me to early adulthood and the pathway since. So here we are.

Well, if I ever get bored, I guess there’s always politics. It might be fun becoming the cranky protester at public meetings or holding a sign at the intersection of Washington Street and Central Avenue. Maybe that’s closer to my expectations, after all. Maybe in another decade?

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