What Would Suffice?

June 23, 2015

“A life’s work is not a series of stepping-stones, onto which we calmly place our feet, but more like an ocean crossing where there is no path, only a heading, a direction, in conversation with other elements.”
— David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

Inside Passage

Inside Passage

I have been taking some down time to do not much — read mostly.  These days, as I contemplate retirement yet am committed to my job for a few more years, I feel like I am on a threshold.  I am gearing up for a transition, but in my mind only because my routine work life, my outward life, has not changed.  I want to shape my retirement into something meaningful for me.  I don’t know what that is yet.  I am looking for role models.

Harold Bloom, writer, professor and literary critic, is still teaching at age 84.  “Certain mornings in midwinter my wife asks me: Why at eighty-four continue teaching full-time?  It is fifty-eight years since first we courted but fifty-nine years since I commenced full-time teaching in the Yale faculty.  I mutter that I fear breaking the longest continuity of my life.  Is that my deeper motive?  What can I know? . . . What remains to be done?  Talking with my wife, our friends (the few surviving), my students, is endless and necessary yet insufficient.  Yet what would suffice?”
— from The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime by Harold Bloom

Officially retiring seems to me to hold great potential for doing something true and deep.  For the first time in my adult life, I will have a small income from social security and a pension freeing me from working for someone else.  I should be able to do what I really want to do.  I guess I have a few more years to discover what exactly that is!





4 Responses to “What Would Suffice?”

  1. Choral Eddie Says:

    In so called “retirement” I have never been busier, or happier, in my life. There is more time to find myself doing those things that give me great pleasure, like pruning the shrubs, finding the right light for a photograph, losing myself in a good book, and taking a swim. Laying on my back, in the lake, watching and listening to the tree branches bend with the wind on the backdrop of a blue sky filled with grand cumulus clouds can’t be beat…

  2. Adrienne Says:

    I retired 15 years ago. There are so many wonderful ways to spend a day,at times it’s difficult to choose!

  3. mzuritam Says:

    I’m starting to try this: the hot or cold game. A life coach named Martha Beck writes articles for Opra’s magazine, and she’s written books like The Joy Diet and Finding Your Own North Star, and she likes to play this game. Think about, or try, a “work” or “retirement” idea, and if you feel warm and good about it, go that direction. If you feel cold or something like withdrawn, go in a different direction. I also add prayer. A business guru that I follow, named Seth Godin, always states that having a “giving” life is worth going after. Hmmm. I’m in transition, too. Good hunting, Rosemary!

  4. shoreacres Says:

    I can’t imagine “retiring.” I can imagine not being able to work because of physical limitations, but otherwise? I’ll keep my hand in vanishing, just because I love it so much. Of course, my work is entirely in my control (apart from the weather). I can choose how much to take on — and for a few years yet, I’ll need to keep taking some on, just because of financial considerations.

    But I have freedom and flexibility, and honestly? I see some of my friends who have retired filling up their lives with committees and commitments and office politics via volunteer organizations. The biggest difference between their “work” and their “retirement” is that they’re not getting paid any more. It’s an amusing thing to see, and probably a good reason to give some thought to retirement before it comes, lest the void get filled up in less than creative ways.

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