Earlier this year I shared with you that my work had diminished and that it would be interesting to see how the rest of the year played out. Well, the year is coming to a close and how it went was that work came in in spurts, maybe averaging 5 hours a week or less. The further challenge was that it was not a regular 5 hours. There were periods when I might work 20 hours over two weeks and then nothing for awhile. Or a drib on Monday, a drab on Thursday. Basically it was unpredictable and not much.
So how did I look at it? When asked, I found myself describing the situation rather negatively. For even though it wasn’t much work to rely on, I still felt like I was on call all the time as I was before since I would never know when the work would come in. The arrangement still necessitates my checking my IPhone regularly for emails from clients so I can be responsive.
Last evening one of my dearest friends called who retired last year. She asked me how I liked retirement. Hers is the traditional – Mahjong, book club, gardening, travel. Mine doesn’t feel like retirement, or partial retirement. Our discussion helped me focus on what I was really feeling . . .
My friend in true Jewish self determination mode (as I fully understand from my pre-Yeshua days) chose to retire. I told her for me it was like being half pregnant (basically inexplicable). I’m kind of working, kind of not, still trying to figure it out. In talking about it with her, I realized that a big part of my struggle related to the fact that I did not choose this. Having worked as an attorney for 42 years, such an adjustment would be hard regardless of how it came about, let alone how mine is happening through diminishing work.
I could see how our viewpoint totally colors our impressions of life. I did not have an attitude of gratitude for the blessings – working from home as I gaze at the sea from my window, not having to commute into downtown Boston each day, having the type of practice that has very loose real deadlines, e.g., no court dates. Instead I was struggling with my lack of control.
What a reminder of how we can so diminish life’s beauty when we forget to see and be grateful for the blessings. How confused we become when we forget that He is in charge. How important to embrace each stage of life and be open to the new opportunities it will bring – yes, less money, but more time for others. Perhaps retirement is a bit more emotionally charged than other stages of life we enter since it’s our last one here.
Or is it? Perhaps a better viewpoint is not seeing it as retiring from the time when work filled many of our waking hours, but rather, as re-tiring (our wheels) to have more time to reflect and pray, love others, serve Him, and experience new ventures and adventures too. It is actually not unlike the stage many of us experience when the kids go off to college. Or when we have a period of unemployment. Times when we are less busy. These are opportunities to experience life even more fully, and are often times when we are the least in control. We let go, let God. And not coincidentally, these are typically the times that we grow more in our walks to be more like Him, when we are not in the illusionary driver’s seat.
So here I sit dialoguing with a client who has sat on information since August and now wants the work completed by the end of the year. . . Oh well, no matter what the stage of life, some things do not change. Glad I’m reminded I’m not in control!
Happy Hanukkah and Shabbat Shalom.