Monday, August 3, 2009

Mists in the Field

When I mention that I am recently retired, people have one of three stock responses:

  1. Oh lucky you!
  2. Don’t worry - you will be busier than ever.
  3. What are you going to do with all your time?

My responses are, in order:

  1. Hmmmm.
  2. What’s so great about that?
  3. I don’t have the foggiest.

If the person has not fled, I might add (again, in order):

  1. I loved what I did. I will miss it. I already do. Where else can I talk organic chemistry to people? Where else will I find a willing audience to hear about the toxicity of fireflies or color changes in squid?
  2. I want to find a few things I can love as much as I did before retirement. In religious terms, this means I need to be still for a while and listen for what I am called to do during this next bit of my life. What is my vocation for the next decade? I am not interested in just “stuff” to do, busyness that fills up my dance card and keeps me running rampant and missing appointments, although that type of stuff will play a part of my next decade or two or three, just as it has been part of my last many decades. I am waiting to discover the passion that will have room for me, will give my life meaning, and provide a new community engaged in a common purpose.
  3. It seems that some people want the recent retiree to have it all figured out, to be champing at the bit to get to do that which she never had a chance to do before retirement. My husband was indeed one of those people. He happily tossed his old chemistry books and disappeared into the basement to build a railroad, emerging periodically to join others passionately involved in the same pursuit.

I look back on lost loves, lost community, and lost engagement in the common good. And I don’t have the new love, the new community, or the new engagement in the common good in my sights yet. I do have faith that one day I will look in my lap and say: “Aha! There it is!” and skip off to jump in or join up.

I am not there yet.

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