So I've done it at last, started a blog, to help me make sense of this new life. Thank you, Roger, for the challenge of "I will if you will". I look forward to your own blog coming my way.
And what is the new life? It's retirement, which, because of health problems, came a year earlier than ever dreamed of. This happened in November 2007, although it was only after all the usual frenetic Christmas activity and the obligatory coughs and colds that reality began to dawn: I was free, I could choose what to do, and best of all, I could slow down and find my most comfortable pace for living.
The first question - what will I do now? - came with a flurry of others: would a comfortable pace really mean life spent reading on the sofa, covered in cats? Could I avoid turning into a total slob, permanently clad in slippers and track suit pants, with an ever-spreading bottom? Would my friends, most of them overworked and always tired, learn to loathe me? Or did they secretly loathe me already, as I made worthy declarations that I would try to get dressed before 11 in the morning, or had a busy day ahead walking to the post office?
Some things began to happen while I wasn't looking. Weekends began to have the same number of hours as the other days of the week, after years of being too short, too full, too hectic. Guilt began to fade about papers unsorted, ironing piled up, phone calls not made, as time became available. Emails to friends became longer, and promises to visit became arrangements. A return ticket to Australia was bought, after 39 years of vague hopes of seeing my old school friend Tricia. My baking increased and improved, although I can still turn out a spectacular failure now and again.
Yes, I can hear some of you snickering, knowing that the unsorted papers and piles of ironing are still there, and that slippers and track suit pants are often my outfit of choice, sometimes fetchingly topped with a pinny. But the aspiration is there, and perhaps writing about my new life will help to shape it into something that can be productive without pressure, relaxed without sloth, and meaningful to me. But there will always be time for that sofa, reading, covered in cats.