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 not really work but just another part of a happy life, but when it stops being that way then it’s time for a change. I firmly believe that you have only yourself to blame for staying in a situation where you’re unhappy. For myself, I’ve had several lifetimes of doing different things squeezed into my years of work, so a radical change wasn’t daunting for me, but a familiar friend. I’ve never been afraid of jumping off the beaten path and into the unknown. Retirement 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 the poem I included was drawn from memory—from the books collectively called “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever”. In that series, people trained and worked to become a part of the leadership, a nobel undertaking, but some took a different path. They took a decision to break off and push forward into some new and unique direction. They were unconcerned about the normal ambitions most people have. These quirky pioneers were called the “unfettered ones”, free spirits released from service to go off on their own, often to study narrow and arcane subjects. In the end they worked harder than those who served, because this was a passion for them. There was a ceremony involved, called the ‘rite of unfettering’, and the rite 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 guess that this attitude might serve well us well when it’s finally time to cast aside that mortal part of ourselves we inhabit during our brief stay here, as well.