Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Life after retirement~
Seven years ago I increased my contribution to the teachers' retirement system and bought five years off my career in a move known as "taking early retirement."
When summer vacation ends, I'll have 180 days left in the profession I chose when I was in first grade.
Maybe because this is my last summer vacation that will end when school bells ring, maybe because retirement is finally close enough to count the days, maybe because I can hardly wait, I've begun to think more seriously about the question I've been asked so often: What are you going to do when you retire?
Here's all I know:
I want to write more, read more, take more pictures. Exercise more, travel more, and sleep more, or at least better. I want to live more. I want to slow down and absorb the life I've been rushing through, rushing because I had to, to get it all done.
What I don't want to do is to plan my retirement. I have done enough planning in 36 years of teaching.
I want to step softly into the years ahead, letting each day open like the morning glories under my window, feeling its promise, following its lead.
But I am a realist. I have a little packet of seeds I've been sowing, releasing them here and there into a wind that takes them somewhere to lay dormant for the time being. An idea, a thought, a hope, a wish . . .
Maybe in a year the first sprouts will appear, tender, yellow-green and full of promise. Maybe there will be a harvest I haven't anticipated.
Maybe there will be drought. I can't know this. I won't worry.
Life will happen. I have sown my seeds. I await the garden.
What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow, which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
To this I add, "Life is in the smallest details that await only your eyes, and your appreciation."