As I headed into retirement, I admit that I felt a bit of fear that with all of the free time in front of me, I would suddenly be handed suggestions on places to volunteer and to help out in the community.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
What I didn’t expect was that I might become my own worst enemy in that regard.
With the steady increase of Covid-19 vaccination rates, much like everyone, I welcome the freedom that comes with the reopening of non-essential businesses.
I also look forward to the gradual (safe) reopening of restaurants and theatres to enjoy the date nights that used to be part of our weekly routine.
But for businesses to be able to deliver the services we’ve missed for so long, there is some serious hiring going on.
Help wanted signs are everywhere. I see them hanging in shop windows in town. I see them in Facebook groups. I see them in the community paper. Even the advertisement emails that I receive daily by the dozens are hinting that if you are a fan of the store and would like to discuss career opportunities, to please contact them.
Ironically – and don’t ask me why – but something stirs deep inside of me. It’s hard to describe. It’s a call to action of some kind. It’s like a quick response in my subconscious saying, “I can do that” and a gravitational pull toward the computer to update my CV… Could that be a Pavlovian response of some kind?
Fortunately, before I have a chance to do that, reason sets in and the urge to respond gets squashed.
First, I have only been retired a few months. As much as I loved my job and my career of 33 years, a good sabbatical is definitely in order before pursuing the next big chapter of life.
Parenthetically, over the years, I have envied friends who had the option of taking sabbaticals. In times when the work pace felt like a hamster wheel for months on end, it seemed like vacation time alone wasn’t enough to fully refresh and recuperate. I longed for a sabbatical, but for various reasons, I was never able to make it happen. Now that I truly have it (though it is called “retirement”), why shouldn’t I enjoy it and fully recharge?
Second, those close to me know that the big chapter I’ve been dreaming of has been writing. I look forward to the free time and headspace for the artist within to unleash and to fully surface. It is time to let the fictional worlds existing in my subconscious to be given life. This is my true dream.
Third, we are still pretty busy, getting our new home and yard set up to our liking. The overwhelming guilt I would feel in helping elsewhere before getting our own house in order (in the literal sense), would be too much to bear.
Also, I have way too many books to read and binge-worthy shows to be watched, which will further inspire the writing.
So that being the case, why do local “Help Wanted” signs stir up a call to action?
I guess that in some ways, I still feel a connection to the community called “the working world”. I guess I haven’t really psychologically cut the ties yet.
At the same time, could I possibly be feeling “left out” in terms of the world re-opening, and not returning to the workplace to do my part?
Plus, back in my former career, helping others solve problems was part of my daily routine, which offered personal validation and confidence-boosting on so many levels. Maybe I am missing that, even though fixing up the house and garden does indeed involve daily problem-solving.
I can think of many possible explanations, since I likely associate pre-pandemic “normal” with my former work life.
But still, throughout the latter years of my career, I knew for sure that my retirement dream was to incorporate more creative writing in my life. That should be my life’s work now.
Taking on any kind of paid or volunteer assignment that doesn’t mesh with that vision, no matter how worthy it may be, would be my own fault for undermining the pursuit of my dreams.
I know there will come a time when I will have had a chance to fully catch my breath and rest up from a busy career. Similarly, there will come a time when the house and garden will be to our liking and running on auto-pilot.
At that time, I will be in a better position to see where the writing journey takes me and if there is any free time and head space left after the pursuit of my calling, my dream job. After all, who knows what great ideas and inspiration a part-time job may spark?
In the meantime, I just have to contain my enthusiasm when I see ads for career opportunities, no matter how fun and interesting they might sound.
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Have a great day,