Several people have asked me how retirement is going. The thing is, am I retired??? I left my last position in New York because Mr. Smith and I were relocating to Pennsylvania, not as the result of a conscious decision to retire. Taking a cue from Peggy Olsen of Mad Men, I tried to leave with panache.
Now ensconced in my apartment in Wilkes Barre, I must admit looking for a full-time position in the legal field at age 64 leaves me a bit nauseous. Research shows the opportunity usually goes to the younger, more attractive candidate! Do I really want to put myself through that? But realistically, people get many of their feelings of accomplishment and sense of value from their career. Who am I if not a paralegal, a contributing part of a legal team? If someone asks me “what do you do?”, I’m not comfortable saying “I’m retired.”
As I go through my days settling us into our new digs, looking for a gym, a doctor, a hair salon, etc., I ask myself, am I retired? I’ve certainly enjoyed the “honeymoon” phase of retirement, being able to say yes to comings and goings without counting my vacation days. I’ve been able to spend some time with my mother-in-law, my sister and all my grandkids. My time with Mr. Smith is better than ever as I don’t have to worry about getting laundry, cleaning, etc. done on the weekends or take up our evening time with trips to the gym. I already have a gig in November to go and stay with our awesome granddaughters while their parents take a short break and it was so much fun to just say “yes” when they asked.
Many people talk about retirement as a time to reinvent yourself. I see it more as an evolution, to develop parts of your true self that may have been put on a shelf while attending to the demands of working life. And who’s to say you can only retire once??? If I come across an opportunity that sparks my interest, I’ll go for it.
Michelangelo said the masterpiece was always within the marble and his job was to get rid of the excess. I like to think of my remaining years – my third act – in this way. I need to shake off the excess – societal values, etc. – and find the masterpiece within.
C’est la vie.