I quit my teaching job about a year and a half ago. At school, I was counted as a retiree, but I really didn’t deserve that title. The others who retired with me were older, had more years of service and truly earned the title.
I was just a quitter. And I don’t say that to disparage myself- I have no problem with it. Besides I was only 49- too young to retire anyway.
But I turned 50 a few weeks later. With both my kids old enough to have either moved out or live at college, and my long career having ended, I started having thoughts. Thoughts I didn’t expect to have because I had just quit, not retired.
In my mind, retiring was something people did when they got old, wanting to spend the rest of their years enjoying life rather than slaving away at a job. Of course, a person can both work and enjoy life at the same time, but in my mind, retirement was like the finale of a fireworks show-going out in a (hopefully decades long) blaze of glory.
I was not retiring, I was just moving from one career into another. I was looking forward to working on more creative projects, music, writing, new connections, new people, freedom and new experiences.
The first year was phenomenal! My life as a professional musician was a blast. I had more gigs than ever, plus I was enjoying them more because my school job hadn’t drained my energy all day long before I hit the bandstand. I sometimes had to remind myself that this was really my life. It’s not like I was playing sold out stadiums or Carnegie Hall, but they were good quality gigs with great musicians and good pay.
Then came Covid. Boom! It all stopped on a dime.
No worries though. The downtime gave me a chance to get my writing projects moving- including this blog. That’s been good too. Not well-known or a moneymaker yet, but a good learning experience and creative outlet. And with the slow revival of my music life and some other interesting ventures, life is still very good.
But I’m impatient by nature, and 19 months after quitting school, I’m wondering how time has gone so quickly, how much of it I have left, and whether or not I’ll find the success I hope for with any of my new endeavors. I don’t feel old, but I’m starting to wonder if I am.
I don’t fully know what “old age” means to me, but thoughts of it have become a nuisance lately. I’m not ready to meet it yet. I hope to have health into my 70’s or longer, like my parents. I would like some grandkids. I want this pandemic to end so we can throw big parties, hug everybody, and go to football games and concerts. I want to continue my projects and make a positive impact in the community.
How much time do I have? Can I achieve my goals?
Who knows? It’s true for all of us at any age- nothing is guaranteed in life, not even life itself. All we can do is be present where we are, live as fully as we can, and accept whatever comes.
That reminds me of a favorite parable, written by J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Here’s the movie version:
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