To begin at the end, I’m not going to be Terry. I never wanted to change the world. I like teaching and after decades of practice, I’m good at it, but I got into it to support a research habit. It seems unlikely that I’ll suddenly develop a social conscience and want to devote myself to good works after I retire. At least I haven’t managed to irritate the people I’ve worked with enough to make them want to ease me out (or maybe my skin is thick enough that I haven’t noticed their efforts).

Jerry is my pathetic example, the person I absolutely do not want to be. When I retire, I plan to leave very permanently: no coming back to teach one course at a time, even online, no hanging around the edges. It helps that I don’t live in LRU-ville; my social life, such as it is, takes place elsewhere. While I do expect to keep doing research, I’ll have books delivered to a library near me, rather than going to LRU for them, and I’ll see people at conferences, not on campus.

I have long admired Merry’s approach, and hoped to emulate it. The problem is, I don’t know what plays the role of British theatre in my life! At one time, I thought I might want simply to go “home,” that is, to where I grew up. To do that would require time travel. That place has changed significantly; it doesn’t draw me as forcefully as it once did. I can imagine moving to the UK, not to London, but somewhere smaller with both a castle and a cathedral, and training to be a docent at both. That way I could spend the rest of my life in the Middle Ages. But I don’t feel like that’s something I must do, just that it would be fun (and I recognize that it’s hard to move to a new country, even one where you speak the language).

Merry, so far as I know, was single (maybe there was someone in London, but I was not privy to that information). I have a husband to consider. He’s from Here, and likes it here. His mother is still alive, and needs more assistance from her children these days. I completely support Sir John’s interest in staying near his mother through her lifetime; it’s hard enough for me being across the country from my now-very-elderly father that I don’t want to pull him away from family just because I think it would be fun to live somewhere else.

If my “Thing” ever hits me over the head, I’ll file my retirement papers and go do it. But as I said last summer, the things people do in retirement are mostly things I already do as much as I want to. I suppose I could try to completely reinvent myself: sign up for wood-working lessons and workshops on miniatures, build doll-houses and their furniture. Or take golf and bridge lessons, turn myself into my step-grandmother. Or become (yet another) style blogger for the over-50 set (certainly there are a lot of potential friends in that set!). None of those things appeals to me as much as continuing to do the things I enjoy and do well. At some point, I’ll have to make a change. I’m trying to be open to possibilities, to see if I run across an activity that sparks enough joy that I’d want lots more time for it.

2 thoughts on “Three Colleagues Commentary

  1. (finally back home with access to my commenting password!)

    I’m really adoring this retirement series – retirement being on my mind pretty much always. And I love other perspectives.

    I’m definitely firmly in the Merry camp. I don’t really know what my theatre is either (hence my recent dabbling in loads of crafty endeavours), but I feel like there will be acres of time before me to explore all sorts of things and maybe that exploration *is* actually my theatre.

    But I really admire your passion, enthusiasm and dedication – and if I felt similarly (rather than being very meh about my work), I would want to merrily (!) continue as long as I was able.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying these! I have the impression that there are a lot of people who feel they chose a practical career at the expense of their creativity, and are eager to have more time to create in various media. I find teaching and researching are pretty creative in themselves. I like reading about your experiences with clay, plastics, concrete, fabric, glass, and so on. They sound like fun. But when I say “fun,” I mean, if I were on holiday with some friends and they wanted to go to one of those workshops, I’d go with, why not? rather than, “oooh, yes, that would be excellent!”

      In many ways, my job is already like what many people want in their retirement: I’m on campus 2-3 days a week, and the rest of the time I’m at home, so I have some structure and a place to go, but also I can run errands at quiet times and do work early/late/in weird places. I have a lot of autonomy. I can wear whatever I want so long as I’m adequately covered. Some people want more time to read, or to study languages: a lot of my job IS reading, and the languages can be classified as professional development.

      I chose to attempt to become an academic because I was sure I would like it, and that I would like it for the long haul. It wasn’t a sensible, practical choice, but the biggest gamble I ever made (there were about 200 applicants for my job, back in the day). I knew I wouldn’t make a lot of money, but the mental stimulation and autonomy were huge incentives. And for me, the gamble paid off. I am very, very lucky.

Comments are now closed.