I guess I’m retired. I didn’t plan to be retired this soon, but the last job I had dried up after nearly three years. I had hoped it would last until I felt I wanted to retire, but it didn’t. I could get another job I suppose, but after living nearly five months without one, I’m not so sure I want to.
This made me think about work in general. Why do we work? We work because we need money for all those things we need like food, clothing, shelter, transportation, education, supporting a family, and the occasional vacation or hobby, etc. Sometimes we work doing things we love, and that’s magical. Sometimes we work because we just need the money. Sometimes we work because we need to be busy, help others, make the world a better place, rescue animals, bring clean water to third world countries, and so on.
When you no longer work, does that mean that you are no longer useful? I don’t believe that for a second. I am starting to think that, when you no longer work, you finally have the time to discover what it is you really want to do. And it could be something for which you don’t even get paid–in money, anyway.
Having these months has been a godsend. I was able to help my dad care for my mom while she was home under Hospice care. I could stay overnight, pick up prescriptions, help clean the house, cook, and so on. But now that Mom has passed on, I’m coming to look at this time as a space to think of what I want to do, and what my purpose is at this time of my life.
How little I understood about work when I was in my 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s! Work doesn’t make the person; what the person does makes the person. If I have learned anything from my mother’s example, it is that we are here to reach out to others, to stumble and fall and get up again; to help make peace and harmony around us, to pull in those people dear to us, to help where we can, to be kind, to give what we can (and not beat ourselves up for when we can’t), to live fully, breathe deeply, love honestly, and try our best to be our better selves. Also, I learned from my dad that not only can you really love your work, but that many people will benefit from that love.
There are some people and some jobs we must leave because they are not healthy for us. There are some paths we must not take. The hard thing is to figure out which paths to follow. Sometimes you have to just throw yourself into something and take the chance that you may fail–but you may also succeed.
That said, I’m not sure where this particular journey will take me. But I do know that, for the first time in my life, I may be “working” in a way I never have before. The work will be of my choosing; not for the money or position, but because I need to do it and it needs to be done. I believe that often our “real” work gets off the ground once we let go of the “shoulds:” “I should do this, I should do that,” especially when those shoulds do not bring us joy.
So, I guess maybe I may not be retired after all. It’s going to be fun to see what happens next….stay tuned!