Seven Years and Itching
It is seven years today since I closed the door on my legal career and I still have no itch or desire to return to the world of court rooms and orders. If I have a yearning at all, it is for a resurrection of the retirement life I had become accustomed to before this darned pandemic descended upon us. It is a craving that is now, however, tempered by the sense that the simple life I have long hankered for is within my fingers' grasp, if only...
I noticed a meme the other day that just about summed up my situation. In essence it was indicating that lockdown has demonstrated that we need more than time trapped at home to organise and sort; the problem was never a lack of hours to devote to the task as we had always assumed, but rather something within that needs to be tamed and brought to heel.
Who would have imagined that seven years down the track with supposedly oodles of time, I'd still be contemplating how to declutter myself of physical stuff? Strangely the transition and letting go of the mental baggage from decades in the workplace was so much easier to tackle as I gradually found and eased into my individual pathway from Day One.
Perhaps it would have been a little too drastic to have hired a skip in the first few months of retirement with a view to jettisoning everything from the previous life to simply start anew. A steady evolution in lifestyle could, one might imagine, have easily been accompanied by a shedding of the paraphernalia that anchors us to the past. Instead the trappings trap, energy is sapped and the equanimity that retirement otherwise cultivates is upset. Seven years of experience suggests a skip might not have been such a bad idea after all.
The last year has been a timely reminder that good health and life are precious. Happiness comes from socialising, being active and altruistic, constantly learning and being aware of the changing world around us. There is no place for masses of stuff in the quest for contentment. In the age of retirement we are looking to disentangle ourselves from the need for possessions, save only in so far as they are necessary to provide the adventures and life we are seeking.
Retirement is for creating memories, enjoying the company of others, exploring and experimenting. It's too precious and exciting to waste on the mundane, but tasks and objects continue to swirl around our home because devoting periods to reducing them is a commitment we are disinclined to make when there always seems something better with which to occupy our time.
So on this my seventh anniversary, I am itching to make amends for my oversight so far in retirement. It's simple: to achieve simplicity, I have to simplify.
To be fair, simplification is a process and not a single action. It is one we have taken tiny steps towards after realising how much easier life would be without some of its unnecessary accoutrements. In seven years we have moved from pre-retirement chaos and neglect of so many facets of daily living to one that could best be described as abundant. We have sorted and simplified so much whilst enjoying and experimenting with too much, but have never fully tackled the over-accumulation that now bears down upon us. We seriously underestimated how difficult a job organising or reducing every aspect of our life and/or stuff would be. So in Year 8, I am determined to devote the requisite time and vigour to complete this task.
One year from now, I shall not be wasting whole stretches of a day hunting for important pieces of paper, that really useful tool or, as was the case recently, a lightweight duvet for the guest bed. There will be no need to tidy in order to clean or to trip over objects strategically littering the floor. Lockdown has slowed the pace and clarified the priorities. Administrative and household chores will now be streamlined and our possessions downscaled. If we want to downsize, travel on a whim or respond with composure to whatever opportunity or adversity comes our way, we shall be ready and prepared.
In Year 8 of retirement, the chaos of the past, now the overload of the present, is about to become the calm of the future.