Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Anniversary

One year.

It's been one year today since I retired from the college. And how does that feel?
Incredible! Marvelous. Wonderful. Fantastic. Better than a hot chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream on top (and THAT'S hard to beat).

I wish I'd done it 20 years ago. But, of course, I couldn't have afforded to do it then. One of my favorite Bible verses is Ecclesiastes 3:1, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." When it's time to retire, you just know it. Things simply came to a point where it felt like it was time to leave work and start something new. So, I did.

I've fooled most of my friends back in the States who said, "You're going to be so bored! You're a Type A personality. You'll be crawling the walls looking for something to do." Wrong. What happens is you find new things to do. In my case, volunteer work, teaching, writing, and art. The difference is that YOU, not your company or boss, largely control the nature, content, and timing of your activities. And that's a delightful difference.

As human beings, we all fall naturally into patterns. Those grooves get deeper and harder to crawl out of as we get older. After many years in the same job, there is a creeping dulling of the senses. Retirement is always an act of courage (can I make it without a regular paycheck?) and a exploration into the unknown. My own early retirement and move to Mexico was even more leap of faith. But it's all worked out even better than I'd hoped for. It's a different culture, a different way of life. Because of that, I see things with new eyes every day. And--for me, at least--there is a great joy in that. Not only are the things around me different, the things inside are different, too. Every journey we take is also an interior journey. And sometimes the new things we find there are even more remarkable than the travel snapshots of our physical, external surroundings.

I've simplified my life. I truly like it better this way. No car (I'll be selling it when I return to Phoenix in a month). No home ownership down here (I'll always rent). No job. No meetings. No responsibilities. The contradiction inherent in the maxim "Less is More" is sweet. Surprisingly, it really works like that. I don't NEED a fancy stereo system or a jumbo-screen TV (don't even WANT them any more).
I don't NEED fancy clothing (no one here cares or notices). So you learn to be happy with what you have, even if that's not a lot. And to value time, without the pressures of "I have to..." It's been a great year.