My father is “retired.” Not retired, but “retired.” The quotes are necessary because he still works.
The deal is this: A few years back, my father decided it was time to retire. He wanted to spend more time on leisure pursuits, and wanted the freedom to be able to travel more often. We all applauded his decision. And I believe the original plan was that he’d continue working something like 10-20 hours at the office each week that he wasn’t out of town. But because he’s my dad, and because he doesn’t really know how to retire, he is, instead, “retired”: He works full time whenever he’s not otherwise occupied, but occasionally takes off for trips and such. We tease him about it, but his justification is simple: He enjoys working.
I enjoy working, too, but make no bones about it: If I could afford to stop, I would. I think. I mean, I don’t know, that’s probably what my dad thought, too.
I’m very lucky in that I have a career doing something I love. I’ve always written and I can’t see one day just deciding that okay, I’m done now. No more words. I will always write, I’m sure.
But would I write every day? Would I write for hire? I’m not so sure.
What if I won the lottery? (To be clear: I don’t play the lottery, so my chances of winning are zilch.) I really believe that if I came into enough money where I wouldn’t have to work, that I would stop. Just stop. Of course, I say that from the vantage point of someone who really, really needs a nap.
Still, I fantasize about it, sometimes. What would it be like to have no work commitments? To not feel like 24 hours away from my email might well be career suicide? To get up whenever I felt like it, sleep as long as I want, go to a movie or just sit and talk with my husband any time I wanted to? To not worry over checks coming in and new work lining up? I imagine it would be incredibly peaceful.
My husband disagrees. “You’d get bored,” he says. “I know I would be bored without work,” he adds. And I think that’s probably true… for him. I’m not altogether convinced that under my well-organized, career-motivated exterior I’m not just incredibly lazy.
Yes, I’d write. I’d take on volunteering I never have time for now. I hope I’d still want to make a difference in the world, somehow. But 8-12 hours at the computer every single day? Not a chance. And I say this as someone who—all things considered—really loves her job. So I’m left wondering two things:
1) Am I really that lazy?
2) If you don’t love your job, isn’t it 100 times worse?
What do you think—would you retire if you could? Or is work such a part of you that you’d be lost without it?