By Luisa Deprez, Guest Blogger
How do you do something you have never done before?
How do you realign your life – completely – after moving out of well-established routines of over 40 years?
How do you grasp the idea that you are no longer on another’s time clock? That the one you now have is completely yours, to do with what and however you want?
How do you do something well if you’ve never done it before?
So, as a mere “babe in the woods” among the retired, I find myself struggling to get a foothold in this next life chapter. Trying to figure out that I want to do. Trying to come to grips with the fact that my time is mine, to do with as I want, when I want, and if I don’t want. There are no external expectations of what I will do or accomplish. It is all up to me.
Life of recent memory has never been like this. So, what do I do?
Turning to friends and colleagues still working has not been particularly helpful as most all of them, even if they love their jobs, exclaim with envy and longing at my status of “retired” and most always bemoan the time that they still have left until they can retire, if they can retire.
There is little comfort or solace to be had among the ranks of those not yet with me on this path. They are not yet confronted with the wobbly road underfoot.
Turning to friends in the throes of retirement as I am is also a bit dicey. They too express consternation at their sometimes plight of wayward walking.
They, as I, imagine themselves on one of those walk-on air games we used to try and maneuver at amusement parks – the ones that when you step on a square it gives way beneath you while you barely, and miraculously, catch yourself to jump onto another square that momentarily also gives way … and on and on and on … Never a place to land and stand and catch your breath and feel comfort and security in just being, for even a moment.
So, those to whom I look – for those important “lean-on” and mentoring moments – are friends and colleagues who have some retirement time under their belts. It is they in whom I can confide about my rockiness as they nod with affirmation and understanding. Been there, done that affirmations and understandings.
To this last group, thank you. To the first, I will be there for you when you get here. For the middle group, those negotiating these new pathways with me … I am so pleased and comforted to have you with me on this journey.
Luisa S. Deprez is Professor Emerita of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine. Her commitment is to issues of equity and social justice.