In our last episode, I talked about making the decision to retire from the working world. After Family Leave for my wife’s terminal illness in 2020, I returned to work on a semi-retired schedule of 3 days per week. I retired officially on April 15th this year.
It’s a big step and and something of a drastic change in one’s life, and I am keenly aware that the subconscious brain is not particularly fond of change. Perhaps that’s unfair. Closer to the truth to say brain goes into a certain “scramble-the-jets” mode when substantial changes occur. It’s doing its important job of keeping us healthy and safe from our environments. It’s looking for the landmarks that remain, and sorting through every bit of new data that is sent its way.
So I decided I better go on vacation before I tell my brain that I have retired. Vacation is mostly a good thing, and brain is accustomed to the concept. I say “mostly a good thing” because I have planned and taken more than one vacation dedicated to wallpapering a kitchen or building a porch or changing the engine in a Subaru, so they aren’t always relaxing and reinvigorating, let’s say.
The plan ensued to slowly get brain comfortable with throwing away the alarm clock and not caring if there is a clean shirt for tomorrow. This could pass for vacay, easy. I figure this will be good for about two weeks or so, then brain will start getting antsy about not being awakened from a perfectly-sound (and needed) sleep, or getting that after-work rush of running around to feed the dog and the cat and serve dinner and change clothes and maybe mow a little or clean the pellet stove.
My new plan is to suggest that when I return from vacation from my semi-retirement after leave, I will go on sabbatical. Sabbatical is all about rest and recharging the spirit, and usually lasts up to a year and specifically excludes paint and wallpaper. Hopefully, subconscious brain will start to take a fancy to all this nothing-doing-ness and perhaps think about going on retreat for a while before returning to the world. Rest is good for the brain, too, y’know. It’s not just for muscles and spirits.
“Vacation” is going well, pretty much. I’m real glad about a lot of things like having time to paint (landscapes on canvas, not clapboard on houses), and have been able to mow the lawn at my leisure, enjoying it from the morning window in the kitchen. Writing seems to elude me, but I guess one needs to vacation from many aspects of daily routine on sabbatical. I get an urge to write and subconscious brain is so slick it’s right there behind me with a suspicious sneer, “I thought we were on vacation?!” And I’m so afraid of letting the cat out of the bag and throwing a wrench in the works and upsetting the apple cart that I zip my lip and hold my tongue and don’t let on and close the journal on that, so-to-speak.
I have been writing a lot of poetry. That’s an acceptable vacation thing, I guess. Just one page at a time typically, and you don’t even need to fill a page or have a topic or anything. Almost like doodling. Or writing your name in the sand with a stick. You can write poetry from a hammock or an Adirondack chair. Heck, you could stay in bed and write poetry all morning, Way late. Like 8 o’clock. Yeah, that’s vacation alright.
On sabbatical, I think it would be alright to keep a journal, don’t you? Not like just a diary like “I got new roller skates today” but more like a place to make note of all you appreciate in that now or the wonders on which you ponder in a spiritual battery recharging. Those sound like nice things for a subconscious brain to go along with for a while, wouldn’t you agree? I sure would. Sabbaticals can have more than just poetry.
‘Cause y’know I really like to write, and it’s really a part of me and has been for a long time before I got to
retir this year’s vacation and subsequent sabbatical. Retire This year’s schedule has allowed me to relax to degrees I have not been able to experience for decades. It was fruitless trying to recall what it felt like when last I was a bachelor. Technically, a widower, but I am a man who is responsible only for himself now, one who answers to no one and can grant any preference. It’s simply normal life for so many, but it is new-ish to me. Sure, I lived as a bachelor before I married and had children and grew from apartment to home and from job to career.
Writing was one of the things that has always connected to the real root of me. In many ways it joins other artistic pursuits as an indelible, inalienable core. Perhaps an alter ego. A face beneath the many hats of son and father, husband and citizen, supporter and leader, guest and friend, mentor and grandfather. For all of those strong spokes of my life’s wheel are directed outward and connected inward. They return joy and glory and pride and love and feelings of accomplishment, drive, duty and productiveness to the eyes on the face beneath the hat. And aren’t “the eyes the windows to the soul?”.
Yes, I agree with you. Thanks for seconding the notion that journaling is good for the soul. That’s a solid statement subconscious brain can sink its metaphoric teeth into and symbolically chew on for a while as our virtual vacation nears its imaginary end.
A little distraction as we speed-bump over a small change and move on from vacation.
On sabbatical, we’ll have time to consider going on hiatus for a while.
Take care and keep in touch.
(You may experience some delay if my mail is held while away)