I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Looking at clouds

Taken from a moving car last Thursday
I love to look at clouds. It comes partly from seeing their amazing variety, but also because I really HAVE seen clouds from both sides: from being above them looking down wondering if I can avoid jumping through them, and from looking at them here on the ground, wondering whether I need a raincoat. Clouds are really beautiful. Could anybody be bored if you love clouds?

Sitting here in the dark on this cloudy and cool morning, I've been casting about for a topic for this morning's Sunday post. Several things are on my mind, but one keeps coming up for examination: how to create useful and satisfying activity in my daily life. Last Thursday twelve of us seniors headed up to the mountains for what seems to have been our last excursion to the High Country for the season: last night it snowed up there and the weather turned much colder. Yesterday I spent some time going through my warm-weather gear to make sure I have the proper items in my backpack so that I can continue to enjoy going outdoors. Back to the Low Country hikes.

I don't usually suffer from boredom, but I know there are many people who think retirement would be boring, that there would be little of interest to occupy one's time. Is boredom a state of mind? I would worry about it when I was working, since I knew that the way I occupied my days would be gone. One of my solutions was to move away from the place I had lived for more than three decades. No triggers or old habits were possible when the act of finding a new home, a new place to live, and going through our possessions and discarding much of the old life had to be accomplished.

Some people need structure, a routine for their days. I am one of them, and work provided that. I was always the first person to arrive at the office, make the coffee and get things started before the rest showed up. It was a good feeling, and I also could leave the office before everyone else. In the summertime it meant I had much of the day to do other things. I've always enjoyed exercising and being outdoors. I could go for a bike ride or run errands. Today, those things are still part of my routine. Frankly, I have wondered lately how I ever managed to fit a full-time job into my busy life.

One reason this is on my mind is that my old boss has asked me to take on an activity with him that I can do from my computer. It sounds interesting, but the real clincher is that I realize he needs my expertise if it is to succeed. He's calling it his swan song before he retires for good, and he'd like it to be a quality product. I said I would consider it, but as it gets closer to fruition, I find myself looking around at what enjoyable parts of my daily life will be curtailed until the job is done. Will I be sorry I agreed to do this? Can I still say no?

No, I'll bite the bullet and get the job done. It will be an adventure, if I approach it the right way. And it's got an end date. Winter might be keeping me indoors more often anyway. It's really funny to think that my daily life doesn't have much room for even a part-time job. I will figure out some way to enjoy the experience.

Just writing this all down, getting it shoehorned into my mental real estate, has helped me. It might not be very interesting to read about from your point of view, but it was a valuable exercise for me. I feel better now.

Sundays tend to be the least structured of my days, with nothing other than this post on the agenda. I'll be getting up soon and getting dressed, however, so I can drive to the cafe for my morning latte. If they have a good breakfast, I'll bring two of them home and share a nice Sunday morning with my partner as I read the Sunday paper. It's the only day of the week that I actually buy a paper and enjoy reading through it, rather than perusing everything on line. Then I'll consider whether the weather will allow a walk or if I might go to the gym and ride the elliptical. Or maybe I'll just hang out at home.

I hope that your day is filled with exactly what you desire, whether it be knitting by the fire, playing with your grandchildren, or looking at the clouds.


Teresa Evangeline said...

One of the things I appreciate about blogging is the ability to think through things, go though the process of thinking out loud. It does bring clarity, doesn't it? I do love clouds. I've not jumped out of an airplane through them, but I have been in a small plane as we moved through them and it's quite an experience to be In the clouds. Lovely post. Have a wonderful Sunday!

Rian said...

Djan, it's fascinating to read people's thoughts and realize that we all go through so many of the same thought processes. I love clouds too. It's one of the reasons I wish I could watercolor better. And when I fly (commercial), I'm absolutely amazed at being up there with them.

I also agree with you on boredom and routines, and wondering how I ever had the time to work full time...

Rubye Jack said...

Structure is important when we have a lot of free time. I'm thinking about going back to work myself DJan. Some things are easier accomplished through a job. I hope you enjoy your computer work this winter and soon enough it will be spring and freedom once again.

O-town Ramblings said...

It was interesting to read this just two days after a brief conversation at coffee after someone mentioned needing to get home and "do something productive with my day." I pointed out that at the end of his life he'd probably remember leisurely chats with friends over coffee, and not remember what work he did that particular day. Needless to say, he stayed and chatted a while longer. I'm learning to let go of needing to have every minute of my life structured with tangible results, and leaving plenty of time to just relax and enjoy life as it happens.

Anonymous said...

It's quite a compliment to you that your former boss asked you to help him with his "swan song." Congrats and I know you will make it a good one, DJan.

You are almost 70, and you would definitely be able to do the more arduous walks/hikes in India. I plan to wait on the bus when it comes to hiking up a mountain. That's what happens when one is as sedentary as I am.

CrazyCris said...

Sounds like a relaxing Sunday to me! It's nice to have a day with absolutely no plans, to just go with what you feel like doing.

Good on you for agreeing to do that job with your old boss! You make it sound like an interesting project, I hope it is! :o)

I've spent my Sunday indoors. It's been a grey, rainy day and I have a nasty cold, so I enjoyed not having any obligations to face the weather! I had a hike but it got cancelled because of the rain (might sound odd in a place where rain is frequent, but here it's so rare people are kind of scared of it! Plus in some areas if the rain comes down strong it could be potentially dangerous). So my Sunday has been spent, blogging, having a leisurely breakfast and later lunch while watching The Princess Bride for the umpteenth time (my go-to film for when I'm sick) and a bit of organising around the house. Feels good!

Linda Reeder said...

Clouds. Yes, I love them, and watch them, much as you do, but not from both sides. I often check Weather Underground to see what the clouds are doing, and if I have a window for walking.
Structure. Yes, I need that too. I plan what I'm doing each day, even if it is just going to the grocery store. I like having a productive core to my day.
Job for old boss. I think if I could work from home, just thinking and writing, I would take that part time opportunity. Intellectual stimulation is the most difficult need to fill in my busy retired life.

Bragger said...

I too thrived (throve?) on structure when I was working, but I find that I am LOVING the fact that I can do whatever I please. Well, within reason. It sounds like it is a good time of year for you to take on a new project. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.

Red said...

Go for the job. We need something challenging once in a while to knock us out of our rigid routines. I like variety but my wife insists on a rigid routine. My activities outside are controlled by weather. Today I dug my parsnips and the ground was frozen. I guess I waited too long.

Far Side of Fifty said...

If you have a start date and an end date then you should be able to do it..you will probably just be more organized and get twice as much done! It sounds like it is a project you are good at..you rock!
I am enjoying my time off..if you can call it that..the museum and its "people" are very demanding...and OF COURSE I am a bit of a perfectionist...just a bit. I work part time over the winter all compute and phone "stuff"..it is doable and I can do it late at night..or in the middle of the night and no one cares:)

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I found your posting today wholly satisfying. The line that especially said my name was the following: "getting it shoehorned into my mental real estate, has helped me." My recent visitor who flew back home yesterday gave me a great deal of think of with regard to what my life is being and I need now to do that "shoehorning." What a marvelous word/concept. Thank you for it. Peace.

Friko said...

Frankly, I have wondered lately how I ever managed to fit a full-time job into my busy life.

That sentence goes for so many of us retired folk. I cannot for the life of me imagine getting bored. There is far too much to pack into every day.

Blogging takes up quite a lot of time and it seems to be taking over a few hours several days a week; therefore it could be said to fill a few of the hours I previously spent working for money.

Whatever we do, so long as we do it with pleasure, whole-heartedly and to the best of our ability, it doesn’t matter if it’s ‘work’ or an activity outside ‘work’. The mental alertness, the physical activity, the quiet contemplation or mad new adventure, all is available to us and we have the best of all possible worlds.

Retirement? I couldn’t begin to fit in a regular job again.

Let’s make the most of it before it all disappears into old age and decrepitude.

Rita said...

I've had periods of my life where I worked and periods when I didn't. I've never been bored. Unhappy, yes. Bored, no. ;)

Sounds like this project would be a good thing. It has a time-frame and is something you are very good at. Challenges and change are good things.

I love your Sunday posts!! Let us know what you decide, but it sounds like you are going to go for it. :)

Whitney Lee said...

I think I'll enjoy retirement. First I need to get the kids to kindergarten. I have so many interests and passions that I don't even have a place for because my life is so full. When I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by that I try to remember how blessed I am to have more interests than time to indulge them. After all, it means I'll never be bored.
It sounds like this project could be fun. If not, you'll know when it'll end. From other posts it's obvious that you were an integral part of the business. It's nice that that was recognized and sought out again for something that is obviously of personal interest to your former boss. I hope it's a great adventure.
I was so excited the other day because my son, at two and a half, was jumping with joy at all the fun things he saw in the clouds. What imagination! Even better, I could see the characters he pointed out.

Trish said...

I think the opportunity sounds great, DJan. Go for it!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I don't understand boredom because my mind is so active it never allows for that. I may be physically still but never bored. Routine was once a must to get chores done and a job and help raise our kids but now that's not part of the day.
Glad writing helped. Journalling is a way to get one's head to other places.

Phioxee said...

im not yet a senior, but I love being with them. i took up Care-giving course last year, and worked in taking care of these people. i talked to them, and i started to realize how should I prepare myself before old-age. i admit it, i am scared, but i think my dreams with spending all day appreciating little things will then come true. thanx for inspiring me Jan ;-)

just me,

#1Nana said...

After the discussion at Vashon, I wondered what you were going to decide. I know that working a little bit has helped me adjust to retirement and it makes me value my time once the job has ended. My current employment is one I can do on my own time and fit into my schedule. I hope you will enjoy dancing with the swan one last time.