Twilight world

THE TWILIGHT ZONE "The Bridge to Nowhere" by Thad Roan - Bridgepix

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.

  1. Carpenters in those days were not highly paid. []
  2. 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 ;) []
  3. 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. []

3 comments on “Twilight world

  1. Judy Redman

    I assume that the rapidity with which you got your house offer is unusual for the local housing market? Great news.

    I have always contended that for an academic, retirement should involve doing those tasks of academia that s/he enjoys without the necessity of doing those s/he doesn’t – so some writing on topics of interest or the opportunity to pursue pet projects, perhaps the occasional supervision of a postgrad or two whose topic appeals, some guest lectures with no marking, no meetings and no admin. And with luck, the invitation to give keynotes at conferences whose themes appeal, thus providing the opportunity to attend at no cost to oneself. Plus time to do all those extracurricular things that one hasn’t had time to do because of the marking, meetings and admin. :-)

    Hope you can do all of those things that appeal to you.

  2. tim

    I have various plans, mostly written about here at one time or another, though there’s still six months before I actually get to end full-time work.

    In the current economic climate with a pretty stagnant market our previous selling experience was more usual :( A month of open homes and then an auction with only one bid. Finally selling after the auction for a load under CV. So yes, sold on the first day for over CV is a very happy surprise :)

  3. Andrea Candy

    My granny used to say “Bored? Then you’re only boring to other people.” i.e. Stay interested in life and you’ll remain ‘interesting’. Shouldn’t be a problem for you, Tim.