In a little over a month I'll be retiring with very little idea of what I'll be doing next. Right now it doesn't feel like freedom, but rather life with a different set of rules, a life that will demand an increase in flexibility and ingenuity.
It feels strange and scary not having a direction, a plan, a purpose, much of an idea about what to do or much of an answer as to why bother. On the other hand, my life for the last few years hasn't provided answers to those questions either. Given my isolation and the fact that I only have this one life, staying in my position just to keep myself in lattes and the latest iPhones seems like a copout and lazy even though it might be the easiest solution to security.
In spite of the trepidation I've been comparing my decision to retire (at least temporairly) to sitting or a longer retreat in which at the beginning there's a little trepidation. From sitting I know the best response is to relax and trust awareness.
Although I've said I have very little idea what I'll be doing next I mean in the longer term. My immediate plans are to spend the Christmas holiday with a girlfriend, visit relatives I haven't seen since I was thirteen and then spend some time traveling to let my mind unwind. I'll investigate my options and probably send in applications to some volunteer programs. But the vacation is a vacation I can use and it's a vacation I should have taken when I graduated from undergrad but cancelled in order to do research before going on to grad school. My companion is going to be an iPhone-iPad watercolor app called Auryn Ink (I have a few other apps as well if I get tired of that one). It's been since the 80's that I've spent any time on watercolors and I've had no training as an artist, but I feel like it will be a fun way to keep track in addition to taking pictures and any poetry or haiku I might be tempted to write.
In spite of the fact that it's always accessible and has unlimited paper and paint, Auryn Ink has some limitations. For example, it's limited to a uniform bleed-width for each line and doesn't allow the swirl and blending of color that, along with their translucency, often give watercolors their mysterious appearance. In spite of those frustrations, I've kept at it and am starting to learn to work within those limits. I'm pretty convinced what happens next in my life will be similar.
The only death in life any of us has a chance of avoiding is the death associated with the fear of impermanence, i.e. avoiding life because of a fear of loss. It's only because of a lot of losses in my life that a unique gap in my life exists. A few of you might even be envious of the opportunity I've got. It's time I took advantage of it. That's how I can help you all the most.
Don't worry, I'll keep you all updated on my adventures. Thank you for your friendship.