Monday, March 22, 2021

Now commencing: Retirement 2.0.

Yurumi |

I'm sure you've heard the word by now: This past weekend was the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as Ostara. We are now officially out of the dark half of the year that started in September at Mabon; the Oak King has vanquished the Holly King, if that's the Pagan mythos you follow, and will reign for the next six months.* 

Regardless of your spiritual bent, though, for everybody north of the equator, the hours of sunlight will keep increasing until the summer solstice -- and unlike in the days just after the winter solstice, the increased daylight is more obvious now. This is the season for planting seeds, both physical and spiritual/mystical, in the hope that they will bear fruit come harvest time in the fall.

So it seemed fitting to me that the temp job I've been working since the beginning of November ended at noon on Saturday, the day of balance. Having labored for the Man during the darkest part of the year, I am ready to take a significant amount of time off to rest. I'm calling it Retirement 2.0.

Oddly, I now find myself experiencing some of the doubts that keep people in their later working years from retiring at all. 

In the last few years leading up to my retirement from the law firm, I was driven so hard by my need to get out of the job and get out of DC that I was in "by any means necessary" mode. It didn't matter to me how much I had in my 401(k) or how I was going to fill the endless amounts of time I'd have without a job to show up for; I had a plan to execute to get to Santa Fe, the pool of money I had would work if I got a part-time job, and the rest would sort itself out.

So here I am, almost eight months post-retirement. The move has been executed; the part-time job I'd envisioned as being a few hours of work per week throughout the year got slammed into a few intense months; and now I'm out the other side, shell-shocked but standing, blinking, in the sunlight.

In retrospect, I think I may have jumped into the part-time job too soon. I got out here at the tail end of July and started training for the legislative proofreading gig on November 1. I had only three months to decompress before I started working again, and these past two months have been particularly intense: seven days a week, nine hours a day on weekdays and slightly shorter hours on weekends, and no breaks during the day. By the halfway mark, it had stopped being fun. In the final two weeks, I resorted to adding stickers left over from my retirement planner to the wall calendar to help me mark the days 'til the end of session.

Still, the money was good. And that's the lure, isn't it? You show up for the job and in return the company deposits money into your bank account every couple of weeks. What happens when you lose that security blanket?

Not to mention how much people invest of their self-image in the work they do. I thought I'd escaped that mental pitfall; I was always very clear that I wasn't a legal secretary -- rather, I worked as a legal secretary. For the past few months I've worked as a legal proofreader. But now I'm...not working. 

Oh, I'm still an author and editor, but I've done nothing with either of those since NaNoWriMo ended in November. I have the first draft of the NaNo novel to edit and publish (still aiming for Beltane!). That will be my CampNaNo goal for April.

By May, I hope, I'll be vaccinated, and all the things that have been closed since I got here (the performing arts theater a block away, the bookstore and coffee shop across the street) will have reopened. 

For now, though, I'm going to treat myself to a soak in a thermal pool and the luxury of not setting an alarm. After that, I guess I'll let things sort themselves out.


* In some Pagan traditions, the Oak King and the Holly King trade off at the summer and winter solstices. From the standpoint of the annual cycle of sunlight, that makes more sense -- but in terms of the growing season, it makes more sense to put the handoff at the equinoxes. And lots of Pagans don't incorporate the myth into their traditions at all. 


These moments of balanced blogginess (and only a day late!) have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Keep masking up and social distancing! We're gonna beat this thing together!


Malcolm R. Campbell said...

If you read or write, you never really retire.

Lynne Cantwell said...

True enough! :D