Being on the “Yay!” side of retirement from the day job, my plans aren’t as regimented as they used to be. I get up when I want, go to bed when I want, and can change plans at the drop of a “wanna have lunch?” from Duane or a friend. Even though I have a writing schedule, it’s so loosely woven that sometimes it comes completely unthreaded by the middle of Monday morning. It is personal freedom at its most glorious.
Sometimes all this freedom is a double-edged sword.
Right now, I don’t have a deadline—wish I did—or even an upcoming doctor’s appointment to set my watch or the calendar on the phone by. I have hair and nail appointments, but as much as I like those luxuries of empty-nest life, they’re not life-changers. I volunteer at the school, have tasks at church that I do on a weekly or monthly basis, and go to meetings of organizations I belong to.
Or sometimes I don’t. That’s the other side of the sword, the side that’s dull and has little notches in its edge and couldn’t cut warm butter if it ever made the effort. Anyone can do the things I do. They could when I was working, too—I know I’m not irreplaceable—but my job was mine to do; the place couldn’t be easily filled by anyone who could run a copy machine (and jam one up) and operate a stapler. My importance now is right up there with...well, the truth is, I don’t have any importance.
It isn’t an easy realization to come to. It reminds me of my sister-in-law who mourned her children’s childhoods because her kids “no longer needed” her, and of my mother who was so often angry because even though I never meant to shut her out of my life, I probably did. In certain circumstances at least, they gained their sense of importance from what they were to other people.
It makes me wonder if that’s what I was doing when I was such a baby over a bad review (I was—I’m not proud of it, but I was). Or when I let the lack of a deadline put me on the path to feeling “no longer needed.” Or when I feel oh-poor-me grumpy because anyone can staple or copy or change the sign in front of the church.
I started this by asking what your plans for 2015 are. I still want to know, so leave a comment; there might even be a prize in it for a lucky commenter.
I’ll tell you my plans while I’m at it, or at least some of them. I’m going to keep both sides of the blade good and sharp, and I’ll remember that I—and the things I do—are important. I hope you do the same.