From my retirement diary
Once a week, we deliver meals to the elderly who are homebound. My husband drives, and I knock on doors and wait for the person on the other side to shuffle their way to the door. Some let me in, and we talk for a few minutes. Others open a narrow slit in the door and send out a hand. Dogs bark from the inside, and every once in a while, a brave cat will venture out.
It feels good to be the one on the outside. The one who is mobile, who supposedly still belongs to the world and is still relevant. But for how long?
Lately, it feels as if I've arrived at this place. The place of not knowing. Not knowing what to do or which way to go. This is the tenth month of my retirement. The first two or three months were marked by organizing the house and reverting it to its role as a permanent residence, then my husband and I succumbed to a routine of slow mornings, followed by some necessary errands. Periodic dashes to see the grandkids. Short afternoon walks with the dog, and every once in a while, an aimless drive over small, cracked side roads that we have seen many times before.
We agreed to give it a year.
A year to find out what the real work is and what the real journey that lies ahead. With only two more months to go, the nagging from my insides is becoming louder and louder.
New ideas come and go as quick as the clouds that mark this summer's unusually rainy days. They show up in the morning and dissipate at night.
Our excitement over each new plan is short-lived, while the sense of gloom seems to linger. There are many reasons for "why not" or "why not now." They are all valid, but in the past, they wouldn’t have stopped us.
I wonder if we feel so lost because we are using our old selves to attack a new reality. But how to define a new self? How to set aside worn-out routines and selves and open the way to something new and undiscovered. Are we even up to the task?
I am reading the words of Wendell Berry:
It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey.
The real work…the real journey, I wonder what it means.
Is this a different kind of journey?
Perhaps a journey to the inside rather than the outside. No vehicle needed; no paperwork required. Packing, my most hated part of any journey is composed mostly of thoughts, observations, and reflections, those can be heavy or light but don’t occupy much space. Traveling light, I was never good at it perhaps it is time to learn.