Lots of folks here know that I've left the college and moved full time to Middletown Springs. And they're uniformly happy about that. But because of the particular history of the area, there's a specific way of understanding what it means to leave a professional position and move here. It's called retirement.
About ten years ago, I was going through the Kroger checkstand, and the young woman at the register said, "Do you get the discount?" I said, "What discount is that?" And she said, "The over... oh, sorry."
About three years ago, I was getting a new cell phone, and explained to the young man at Verizon that I just wanted to use it as a telephone, nothing else. He understood immediately, and recommended a Samsung for the quality of their electronics, and recommended a flip phone because it puts greater distance between earpiece and mouthpiece for less feedback. He COULD have stopped there, but he had to continue... "And it has the extra-large keys, and the one-button 911 and one-button emergency contacts..." Yeah, thanks, Sonny, I get the picture.
So now I've moved to Middletown Springs, and in the past three days, five separate people have asked me (in exactly these words), "So, how's retirement?" I had a hard time with that on Friday night, as Nora will attest. "I'm NOT retired! I'm a consultant..." I whined. I'm not even 55 yet (two more weeks), although I've been getting my AARP invitations for years.
But by Saturday morning, I was (temporarily) over it. So when we went to the Post Office on Saturday morning and Bobby asked "So, how's retirement?", I just smiled and said it was good. And ten minutes later, when we were at the dump and Dave asked, "So, how's retirement?", I just smiled and said it was good.
We define ourselves by our work, which leads to some mental trauma when the work is gone. The fact is that I move boxes around in the garage, and I do a little work for our clients, and I play pool, and I write, and I cook dinner, and I'm always feeling a little anxiety no matter which one of those I'm doing because I'm not doing one of the other ones. But all of those little anxieties are better than allowing myself to be defined by my employer, allowing someone else to decide what I should do and what I'm worth.
The present moment is the substance with which the future is made. Therefore, the best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment. What else can you do? Take my hand. We will walk. We will only walk. We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere. — Thich Nhat Hanh