Today I’m camped alone on a beautiful lake, Gold Lake, in the high Sierras. I’ve been officially retired from the work life for one week. I am trying to comprehend what this life-changing event, retirement, is all about, but so far I cannot. I have expected much, and hope that much will be given to me. I have been camping for five nights. Yesterday was my wife’s 63rd birthday. We planned this trip several weeks ago. She returned home this morning, while I remain in these gorgeous mountains a few more days to continue my overall spell of relaxation from the work-a-day world.
I’m writing by hand on a picnic table on the shore of Gold Lake. All my writing has been on a keyboard for years. My mind works faster than my hand writing allows. I must slow down to accommodate pencil and paper. I have already jumped ahead in my mind to many different topics, but those topics have not appeared on paper. Also, I have not written anything for a week, which is a block to me when I do not have regular writing time.
I have to discover what I have left behind in the corporate world. My journal entries then were synchronized wit the clock, with the schedule that me and my colleagues had to adhere to. What is this new life?
On my last day of work, a Friday, I had hoped to have a carefree day. It was instead fraught with last minute details that I sensed being held accountable for, even though my time of departure was down to hours rather than days. The good people I worked with, however, took over the tail end of my work and wished me peaceful departure. I could not easily leave in peace. The workplace had given me this constant sense of panic and urgency that I could not overcome on my own. I knew I needed to leave and heal.
A week later, I have the sense that I may regain my lost composure. How did I lose it? By anticipating that I’d soon be leaving the company, I got behind on a few projects out of lack of concern, and then got beat up in a couple of meetings with managers. Oh well, it’s over. What a contrast to be here on the shore of this lake today, camping, and free of the system that was bringing me down, even though some of the pressure I was feeling lingers on in my distressed nervous system.
I had planned to drive to Oregon this week to explore and experience the wild-flower meadows that surround Mt. Hood. The full-day drive north on narrow highways lost it appeal for me. I needed rest more than excitement, so coming to this lake country in the Sierras, closer to home, was the better choice.
Writing gives me some comfort of mind. My Kindle carries many of my favorite books, my familiar territory that gives me a sense of peace no matter where I am in the physical world. What goes on around outside of me and my thinking life causes me some disquiet. I wonder if others feel as I do, or maybe it’s my own personal battle with the nature of our modern world. Floating on an air tube this past week on these quiet mountain lakes has eased the transition from work to retirement. I recall the other day watching a passenger plane skimming through the tops of the pine trees overhead and thinking to myself how it is going from one hectic city to another, skipping over this majestic alpine lake country, the passengers unaware of what loveliness lies below them.
I have been reading Augustine’s Confessions for the last several days. It is a new translation and much more word friendly than versions I have attempted to read earlier in life. It’s a call to a life of Godliness, a change in how one sees the universe and man’s place in it. I grow weary of the way life progresses on earth and often wish for something more fulfilling and meaningful, but at the same time I do not aspire to become the bishop of a church. He’s uncompromising, orthodox, but inspirational. Plato’s teachings have a broader influence on his way of thinking than he is willing to admit, in my own estimate.