Life vs Work

Just about a year ago, I quit my job. At my age, that action can earn a different label. “Retirement.”

Admittedly, I was in a good place to do that. No crippling student loans, our house is small but fully paid for, and I’ll drive a car until it falls apart. I’d been saving like mad for the last 15-20 years, and so when the financial guys told me I could afford to get out, I got out.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” For many years, I was able to do just that – I had a job where I could make a decent living doing the kind of work I liked to do, and things went well. Nothing lasts! The company changed and I got moved into different sorts of work, different responsibilities, and different expectations – and as a result, I fell out of love with my job. My investment in work had shifted, from a desire to add value to my company, to a desire to do what was expected of me to earn a paycheck.

I could have waited longer. There’s no mandatory retirement age, and in fact I’ve met people twenty years older than me who are just now thinking about retirement. But I’ve also known too many people who died long before they ever thought they would. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that dropping dead in the middle of a workday would be just about the worst possible way to go. Imagine your last conscious thought being about a timecard. Or worse yet, drifting away forever while connected to a company-wide Zoom call.

So yeah, I got out. I’m a much more avid gardener now, and I think within a few years the yard is going to shine as a result. I published some short fiction, drafted a novel last summer, and I’m polishing up another this winter. With the pandemic in remission, travel has again become possible, and I’m exploring some amazing low-cost destinations. I’m taking more classes, tinkering more, reading more, hiking more, and overall enjoying life more.

I’m one of those people who struggles at times to make even a simple decision. Blue shirt or red? Pizza or Chinese? Bus or taxi? But the decision to retire? As life-changing as it’s been, that was the easy one.

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