Helga’s Heartlines: A Journal
Monday, June 17th, 2002
If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.
~ Lane Kirkland ~
That long-dreamed-of day, that seemingly too-distant far-flung destination, epochal in the journey of an over-eager lifetime’s soul, has miraculously arrived! Pinch me, I’m dreaming! Today, unbelievably, finally, I'm free! Free of the daily grind and unremitting demands of Corporate enterprise as the sole means to satisfy my prospects for society, status, sustenance and security. Ahead of proscribed Industry schedule, I am that rare breed and apparent radical, a blissfully happy early retiree.
I do not mean to suggest that I am set for life or face a future without risk or want or guaranteed satisfaction of all my needs. No, for me the tradeoff is such where-with-all as I have accumulated and thus far achieved, along with precious time and the freedom to be.
This seems to be outrageous, a sacrilege, from what I see. It simply isn’t generally done in our capitalist consumer-driven society. Your average citizen and hard-working person doesn’t just opt out ahead of time; it isn’t expected, conscientiously self-directed, or, unless one is an elitist, normally chosen, voluntarily. More often these days it's forced upon those who do not seek it, especially the unprepared long-term employee.
While one or two seriously mean and say, “Lucky you!” almost everyone I talk to responds with bewilderment and genuine apprehension, “It’s too soon to retire!” “You’re too young not to work!” (Middle-age is too young, unless you've sufficiently deteriorated, you see...) The Big Concern, “What are you going to do now?” As if one must do something until one is no longer fit to do anything. Also implied is their question, “(How) Can I afford it?” In truth, not as much as some of those who ask it.
I am relieved to find among my colleagues a fellow veteran and kindred spirit. One who, born the same year, feels affinity, occupies a similar head-space, perhaps due to the coincidence; one who truly seems to comprehend and appreciate my ‘plans’ which commence immediately. We relish the inside joke, share the same sense of humor, exchange laughter and deep knowing:
“What am I going to do now?” “NOTHING!”
And this response is profoundly satisfying to both. The bliss of simply Being, not Doing, for a change. Something to be devoutly wished for, deliberately aimed at, and duly celebrated, after more than three decades of continuous dedicated service to the company. There is the sense of overwhelming urgency to break free, not that this implies we will henceforth and forever, nothing more than idlers or dilettantes be.
For us, there is a higher imperative than the next rung on the corporate ladder, the next promotion, the next pay raise. We are tired of chasing the almighty dollar, accumulating goods and possessions, collecting and consuming, earning so we can keep spending like some kind of perpetual-self-propagating living machinery. We've done our bit to pave our way and cover our debt to society. Apart from good 'ol taxes, now I plan to 'share the wealth' through volunteer charity work and my creativity.
Ahhhh. Inhale the intoxicating fresh air of freedom. The plot-lines along our life paths dictate, demand, that we take time, make time, to stop and smell the flowers, tap into unexplored possibilities, enjoy the fruits of our labor, give due attention and appreciation to bounties beyond price, blessings already earned and received. We’re painfully aware there’s another world outside those corporate windows, one we’ve been missing, other worthwhile, fulfilling, unrealized aspects of reality.
While I ponder, shafts of sunlight stream through open windows, pouring rainbow colors over coverlet and countenance. I normally miss their morning occurrence. I check the time on the clock-radio. 7:00 am. It’s still early but almost 2 hours later than I used to get up. I linger in bed a while longer indulging in the simple awareness, the sheer pleasure, the warm soul-satisfaction. It’s a little like being reborn, embarking on a brand new destiny.
Soon I'll get up and greet the sun and this first free Monday properly, give appropriate thanks. I'll breakfast outdoors, tip a cup or two of fresh-brewed coffee to my lips in celebration from the vista of my flower garden and nature's canopy.
Meanwhile, as brilliant sunshine plays across walls, ceiling and picture windows I’ve already made today’s first glorious discovery - Monday isn’t Blue any more – it’s a good as any other day – better, even – Monday is Golden.
Note the irony: For one who's immediate plans are to Do Nothing, what's the first thing I do? Write about it!
~ Helga Marion Ross ~