Musings on Schrödinger and Other Things

This week marks one year since I retired. An entire year. That seems almost impossible to me, yet the calendar is right there. Bam.

(photo courtesy of Questions of Light Photography and Jane Morrison)

It has been a busy year, certainly. I finished a (very long) book and got it published. I’ve tackled projects around the house that I’ve been putting off for too long. I’ve taken up the violin (the poor neighbors…), and I’ve been exercising regularly to try and keep this grumpy back in line. This semester, I’m teaching again, which I love.

But as I look back over this year, it occurs to me that life does this. It’s kind of like Schrödinger’s cat, but for time. It creeps as you’re going through it. So much of our lives spent working, and every day can feel like a slog, until you realize the slogs have added up to years, and then the years have become decades. I don’t mean to imply that work wasn’t enjoyable. It mostly was. But alongside all of those years working were all the other things that make up a life: falling in (and out and back in for good) of love, getting married, buying houses, having dogs and cats move into – and sadly, out of – our lives. It all adds up waking up one day and realizing one entire phase of your life has passed by. Slogs and leaps – all at the same time. (Thus the Schrödinger analogy, in case you were wondering where I was going with that.)

That doesn’t mean the next phase isn’t just as full of promise and fulfillment. Maybe adventure. Travel was one of those things we thought we’d be doing a lot of once we were both retired, but an aging dog has altered those plans a bit. We’ve done some, but not as much as we’d planned. Plus, if you read this blog regularly, you know I’m a Hobbit. 🙂

It’s also kind of hard now to remember what life was like pre-covid. The world has been permanently changed in some ways, especially for those who lost loved ones in the pandemic, and yet some people carry on as if covid didn’t exist. Another Schrödinger thing.

If you’ve stuck with my musings this long, thank you! I hope you’re enjoying autumn in the Northern hemisphere, or spring if you live in the Southern hemisphere. Wherever you are, try to appreciate the slogs as you go through them, because one day, you’ll look back and realize life has handed you a leap when you weren’t looking.

Pax

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Bemused by Time

(Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory 1931)

Back in July, I wrote HERE about how my life was being abruptly pushed in an unanticipated direction with my bad back forcing an earlier-than-planned retirement.

This past Thursday was my last day at work. It was kind of bittersweet, as I imagine those last days often are. I adore my co-workers, who gave me a wonderful gift of a Creative Block. This cool little box contains little prompts for finding creativity when it feels elusive, but they also included little hand-written messages to me. I’ve only let myself read a few at a time, trying to drag things out. But this is a perfect gift for me. I told them, I’d change the names if any of them make it into a future book! 😉

I’ve worked as a physical therapist for thirty-two years, and now…

How can thirty-two years have passed so quickly? And why did it feel it was creeping by as I was going through it? How can time do both things simultaneously?

These are the questions that keep roiling around in my head as I try to get a grip on how to structure my days now that there are fewer outside things imposing structure on them. I know myself well enough to know I NEED structure, and perhaps a schedule, even if it’s of my own making. There are so many things I’ve longed to have more time to do, as well as many projects around the house that have needed more time than I had.

Later this month, Beth and I will celebrate twenty-nine years together. Holy cow! This, too, feels as fresh as it did when it was new, and yet, it feels as comfortable as if we’ve spent a lifetime together.

A couple of days ago, a friend lost her husband of forty years to a sudden heart attack. I can only imagine how devastated she and their children are. News like that cannot help but remind you how quickly life can change. It makes you want to cling to the one you love, just hold her and never let go.

Add in a pandemic that has kept many of us from seeing family and friends face-to-face for over a year and a half, and those connections to the ones we love feel even more tenuous.

However time moves for you, I hope you have time to see the people you love, to do the things that bring you joy, and some quiet moments to just sit and ponder the mysteries of time.

Pax

Transitions II

Sometimes, no matter how well you thought things through, how well you planned, how many details you thought you had all lined up the way they should be… it all goes flying out the window.

That’s what this past two weeks has been like for me. I had been making quiet plans to retire at the end of the year, trying to get everything I could anticipate taken care of ahead of time.

Part of that was giving Beth time to adjust to the prospect of having me home every day – in her words, interrupting the routine she’s established since she retired.

But as fate or luck or whatever would have it, circumstances have shifted so that I will be phasing out of my job beginning much sooner than I expected. Like… now. I’ve written before about my bad back, which, as bad backs tend to do, has only gotten stiffer and grumpier as I’ve aged. Enough so that some parts of my job were becoming unsafe for me to do.

My supervisor and some other people above my pay grade began working with me to help change around my job duties so that I will not have that risk. But that shift can only go on so long, with the end result that I will be transitioning from full-time work to part-time work to full-time retirement sooner than I had anticipated.

The future feels a bit murky at the moment. Sometimes, it feels a weight has been lifted that was a lot heavier than I realized. Other times, it all seems kind of scary. At least, that was Beth’s reaction upon learning she was going to have me around more and sooner than she’d planned for! 🙂

This transition to retirement brings with it a weird mix of sadness and relief. Sadness at no longer doing the thing I’ve done for 32 years, (it’s funny how much of ourselves we define by what we do), and relief that I won’t have to keep doing the thing I’ve done for 32 years. I could do physical therapy elsewhere if I wish, and I may. After a rest.

The upside, of course, will be more time to write and do the other things that I truly enjoy doing.

In my first Transitions post, published in June 2013, I wrote about the death of a friend and how it made me more determined to not wait until “someday” to do the things we really wanted to do. Since then, we have traveled to Ireland and Scotland, as well as other places in the US we’d never visited before. When the pandemic travel restrictions can be eased and more of the world has had a chance to be vaccinated, we’d love to see more of it.

So, I’m hoping this new transition will be just as positive. Even if Beth ends up creating a timetable for when I’m allowed to be in the house.