Retiring…do I have to wait that long to do what I want?

May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Three of my colleagues are retiring this year.  One has been with our institution for forty years.  The other has been here ten, but has been in the same field for probably about twenty five to thirty years.  All are happy about the change and looking forward to it.  They have mentioned being excited about  being able to “drop everything” and take off on a trip or having time for grandchildren or singing in a community choir.  Things are looking good.

I, too, am glad.  I like these women.  They are good workers, decent people, friends.  But as I see them packing up their belongings and tying up the loose ends of their various careers I have to wonder:  do I have to wait that long to do what I want?

It’s not that I hate what I do (not releasing any details here…I have a full time job, that will suffice for now).  It’s just that…well, let me explain it this way.  I saw the movie “Limitless” with a friend.  In the movie, the main character (played by Bradley Cooper) ingests a mysterious pill that releases the full potential of his mind.  He can suddenly understand the world better and solve problems quickly and easily.  Soon he’s making big money and facing bigger problems.  But the point is–he was himself, only SO MUCH better.  I guess.  My friend said she would take the pill in an instant, then she could be even better at her job (she’s pretty outstanding without it).  My response was, gee, if I took that pill, I wouldn’t use my new-found skills where I am now.  I’d break free.  In a big way.

Movie-induced fantasies aside, I’m serious.  I’m not in a bad place but I am wondering, when did I sign up for this?  I’m painfully aware that, apart from the time I spend right here for instance or the free time I have on weekends, most of the best hours of my day are consumed with tasks whose outcomes don’t really matter to me.  It’s just that I wish to keep my job, so I do them.   And is that so bad?  Plenty of people hate their jobs, have little or no free time, don’t get paid at all what they’re worth.  None of that applies to me, yet there’s still a chafing between my consciousness and my workaday self:   is THIS what life is?

Then there’s the flip side:  without work, how do I learn self-discipline, social skills, and what not to wear?  A job can be a great place to meet people, especially if it is at a place in which one’s coworkers are at least mildly educated or interesting (or both).  It forces me to get up at a decent hour and to put my best foot forward, I suppose.  It’s not ALL about oppression and THE MAN.

Even as I type those words, however, I know I don’t want to NOT work.  I just want to work at what I choose.   Insert dream job here:  I want a paycheck for thinking stuff up and telling people about it.  It’s not too far fetched, you know.  In fact, there’s already a title for people who do that, they’re called writers.   Problem is, someone has to be interested in what you have to say.  Or you have to convince people they should be interested in what you have to say.  I need to figure out how to do that.  Sigh.  That mystery pill could sure help here.

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