For those contemplating retirement with some trepidation:
There is work and there is life and as long as your work isn’t work, then it’s life, but when it stops being that way, then it’s time for a change. You have only yourself to blame for staying in a situation where you’re unhappy. For myself, I had several lifetimes doing different things squeezed into the years, so change wasn’t daunting for me, it was a familiar friend. Retirement from what you used to do isn’t the end of work, it’s the beginning of another stage of life and work, one where you choose what to do and toil only for yourself.
I remember sending an email to some of my long-time colleagues the day I decided NOT to take another job at my company (although I had offers), and not to seriously consider that job in California, and not to agree to work on the NASA project, or any other job.
The email expressed how I felt and was drawn from memory, from the books collectively called “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever”. In that series, there were people who’d trained and worked to become a part of the leadership, a nobel undertaking, but who instead took a decision to break off and push forward in a different, unique direction, unconcerned about the normal ambitions most people pursue. They were called the “unfettered ones”. These free spirits released from service went off on their own to study, often narrow and arcane subjects, and they worked even harder than those who served, because this was their passion. There was a ceremony, called the ‘rite of unfettering’, and that rite was stuck in my head:
Rite of Unfettering (quoted from the books):
Dream that what is dreamed will be:
Old eyes clasped shut until they see,
And sing the silent prophecy –
And be –
(From the books by Stephen R. Donaldson)
I would hazard to say that this attitude might serve well when it’s time to cast aside the mortal part of ourselves that we inhabited during our brief stay, too.