On Monday I met a friend at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It takes over an hour for me to drive there but it was a beautiful day, the roads were relatively empty and I enjoyed the journey. Perhaps it was a snippet that I heard on the radio or maybe a latent thought in the depths of my mind, but I began to ponder on similies for the retirement experience.
"It's been a little bit like space travel," I told myself, "A venture into the unknown."
That didn't feel quite right. After all I can't honestly say that I have spent the time since June 2014 exploring distant planets or even the moon.
Later as we wandered around the Park admiring the large outdoor sculptures we entered the garden area where an exhibition of Not Vital's work is being set up. Chased-steel pieces, reflecting the light and surroundings were mesmerising and as I stared at a moonlike orb, it came to me.
Retirement isn't akin to space travel at all; instead it is life in a parallel universe where people, places and events may seem familiar but life itself is not. There's a link and a relationship between the former working life and present, but the former life is distant and removed.
I have crossed the Rubicon and now inhabit a simultaneously familiar and yet strange world where people have time to wander around sculpture parks during the working week, eat long lunches outside in the sunshine, have meaningful conversations, smile, listen and make time for each other.
That old world is trapped in its own time and place; it still goes on but I cannot enter. When I try to steal a peep, my parallel existence is reflected back across the lawn; its blue sky and green, geen grass hide the surface of that other world and stretch out before me, beckoning and enticing. There is no going back, and, let's be honest, would I want to?