Around now I’d be retired, according to our schedule. Actually I’ll be working at Carey for another six months, but we’ve just taken a big step on the journey.
On Friday morning as Barbara, Thomas and I began the final clean-up inside, workmen hammered the “For Sale” notice into the grass verge and our house in Auckland went on the market. On Saturday afternoon, as Barbara and I drove exhausted back to “the farm”, they held the first open home. That evening someone made the first offer, after a couple of phone calls they offered 20k over the CV and we accepted. (Subject to lawyers and a building inspection before Friday.)
We’re surprised and delighted, and I’ve taken a big step closer to retirement. So, this morning I woke thinking about “retirement”. Ceasing full-time employment marks the beginning of what, accurately if somewhat negatively, people used to call one’s “declining years”. This period is a time of life dedicated to (hopefully slowly) running down like a clockwork toy that no one winds any more. This is a period when, barring major illness or disasters, ones capacities and world gradually shrink. In traditional societies, as ones ability to act in and on the world around shrank, ones respect grew. Not so in the “modern world”. Here “old folk” just fade away.
So, how could anyone welcome retirement (the gateway to this twilight zone) and even deliberately choose to begin it early?
As in so many other things, I think of Grandad and Granny. Mum’s dad had planned and saved for retirement all his working life, took it early and enjoyed the “fruits of his labour”. He wasn’t well off, they’d been frugal all their lives and that couldn’t suddenly change.1 But he entered retirement planning to enjoy himself. Projects like making a dining chair set, and building a garage, as well as his garden and show rabbits kept him out of mischief.2 He enjoyed his grandchildren, savoured watching his children now safely grown into people he could like and even respect.
That’s what I want, come June. Oh, not the rabbits,3 and not the building and carpentry (much, though we do have some fences and a piggery planned) but the enjoying life. And like Grandad I don’t plan that my world should shrink too fast, so I do hope that nexct year will see real progress with the development of open resources for biblical studies.
- Carpenters in those days were not highly paid. [↩]
- Yes, in the UK in the fifties rabbits were scarce enough that people held Rabbit Shows and won rosettes for the best in breed. Grandad and Granny were practical people, so they also bred rabbits for meat ;) [↩]
- In NZ they are a pest. We’re hoping a friend will come to stay and bring a gun to shoot the ones our place seems to attract. [↩]