“Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.” John Randoph (1773-1833)
“The whole life of man is but a point of time; let us enjoy it.” Plutarch (46AD-120AD)
It’s been over two years since I updated this blog, and I join those who have marveled over the millennia at the fleeting nature of time. I’m writing now because I’m at a crossroads, a time of reflection and assessment, and I want to record my thoughts.
After 32 years association with the University of Georgia, first as a graduate student and then as an employee, I retired on April 1, 2014 at the age of 54. I made up my mind over the Christmas break, but I’d been toying with the idea for years. I was never satisfied doing one thing 40 hours a week. After reading the Travis McGee novels of John D. MacDonald (highly recommended retro summer reading), I used to say, only half joking, that I’d like to “retire now, when I’m young and can enjoy it, and I’ll come back and work when I’m old”. But I could never find any employers willing to take me up on that, and I was too practical and responsible (ie insecure) to strike out on my own, so I stuck with UGA. Although I stayed with one employer, I shifted professions over the years, moving from general lab work to molecular genetics to flow cytometry to IT. Now I’m going through the biggest shift of all, from the 24×7 responsibilities of IT (managing a team responsible for central enterprise services for UGA) to unemployed. It’s quite a change.
It’s too early to tell, but I think I’m going to like it. “What’s not to like?” ask my friends. Here’s a short list of the [mostly] unpleasant surprises so far:
- I feel adrift, like I have no purpose. For someone who had up to 6 meetings/day, fielding requests in person and via email all day (and often nights and weekends), it’s unsettling to have such an open schedule.
- I’m not getting as much exercise. I used to walk a lot on campus, and now I’m just drifiting from the house to the yard. I offset that the other day by doing a lot of digging and brush cutting, so that’s going to change.
- It’s quiet. Amy still has several years to go before she’s qualified for full retirement, so I’m home alone, with the dogs and cats for company. I’ve always talked to myself, and I’ve found that I’m doing a bit more of that. Of course I can listen to whatever music I want, as loud as I want.
- I’m not doing what I thought I wanted to do. Two of my primary motivations for retiring were to have time to devote to my glass work, and to have more time to help Mom around the farm. I’ve been over to Mom’s once (helped her with a few odd jobs but didn’t do any serious work), but I have spent just one hour in the studio. Instead I find myself puttering: taking care of paperwork and blog updates for ORCTU, fixing things around the house, doing a bit of cleaning, etc.
I realize that it’s only been a week, and it takes time to adjust, so I’m trying to ignore the voice in my head that’s telling me I’m shiftless and lazy. I had a great time last Saturday helping with a “Trout in the Classroom” fish release just below Buford Dam, I’m going fishing tomorrow, and we’re participating in “Sweep the Hooch” this weekend. I’m having fun, I just need to manage my time proactively, instead of reacting to external demands as I used to. An ironic discovery for someone who’s been a fan of GTD for years.
(For those familiar with GTD, I had one of the most productive weekly reviews I’ve ever done this week. I was able to clear out all the work projects that were no longer relevant, and did a massive brain dump of all the house and studio projects that I now feel I can address. Now to focus on the “do” step.)