The poster sized calendar hung prominently on my drab office wall, black X's blocking off all but the remaining working days. On my computer a 'days to go' message flashed every morning. No one needed to ask if I was looking forward to retirement.
I did feel some angst about leaving - this had been my life for almost 30 years, so much of myself was wrapped up in the computer systems and data in them. My core beliefs about managing data were mirrored in the work that I had done and there was no one that cared as passionately about the job than me. In some ways it felt like I was leaving a loved one. On the other hand, I couldn't leave soon enough. Thirty years of struggling to get people to do the right thing had taken its toll. It was time.
It was the day after Christmas and you could have fired a cannon down the halls. I wasn't keen on a public tearful goodbye and had chosen the day carefully. That morning I ran around from place to place getting sign offs and handing in equipment. Each stop felt surreal - I didn't believe it was finally happening, surely someone was going to jump out to say it was all a joke. Finally, a quiet lunch with my boss and I was out of there, carrying the last of my possessions in a box. Walking down the hallway to the elevator, my feelings swung between euphoria and a sadness at seeing that part of my life end. I'd been there for almost 30 years and overall it had been good. At the end of the hall I turned around to look back, thinking that if I never saw those drab beige walls again I would be happy.
The pleasures of a life not dictated by frustrated clients and broken software weren't long in coming. Waking up when I woke up was nirvana. No more 5am alarm clock to brashly start my day. Drab beige walls were replaced by windows bright with winter sun. Snow storms were enjoyed from the comfort of my sofa, with a hot beverage in hand, and a fire roaring in the fireplace, and not on icy roads in rush hour traffic. I wasn't frazzled.
Like a road untravelled, the future lay before me. I could do anything I wanted or nothing at all. I did both. I had started a blog the month before retiring and this was one of my new daily activities. It was hard work at first, and a good substitute to all those hours at the office. I may have retired from my job, but I was still addicted to my computer, only now I was doing what I wanted!
Summer arrived with new pleasures. We had purchased our camper a few years earlier, but now it no longer sat lonely in the laneway week after week, instead we dragged it around from place to place, enjoying new scenery, enjoying our freedom.
As the months wore on I started to feel a need for a new goal, something that would engage my mind and imagination. Crafts aren't my thing (although I wish they were) and camping can only take up so much time. I have my blog, but it is limited in scope. My new hobby became improving our health and fitness. I spent hours on the internet looking for vegan recipes, and even more time at the kitchen chopping board.
Now and again I look back with regret at dreams that had to be given up, ones that would have come to fruition in my retirement years, but I only allow myself a few moments of reflection, before turning my thoughts back to what might be, instead of what can no longer be. The possibilities are endless.
We too can begin a new life, one that brings satisfaction and enrichment, whether this is by singing, dancing, running through the waves, walking barefoot on the grass or making love under the stars. Perhaps your dreams are greater than this, or perhaps more conservative, but whatever they are, Beltane is a wonderful time for expressing who you truly are. ~ Carole Carlton