The Virtues of Slacking

Last Sunday we went to a birthday party in a winery in Driftwood, about 40 minutes away, where the Austin area meets the Texas Hill Country. What could be nicer than good wine, artisan pizza, a beautiful setting and celebrating the birthday of one of my favorite people in the world, my friend Jane?

Photo from Duchman Family Winery

Photo from Duchman Family Winery

Her husband, Sonny, retired soon after Jane and I did. He said he was going to do absolutely nothing, and since he had been a middle school shop teacher, who was going to argue with that? So my husband asked him if he was still doing absolutely nothing. He said “Yes,” but when pressed he said his son had given him a tiller for Christmas and had been tilling their garden.

That surely didn’t sound like doing “nothing,” but I got it. After years of working for other people, doing just what you want to do feels sort of like nothing—nothing you have to do.

I’ve explained my struggles with time and over-commitment many times here, and I’m thinking Sonny has the right idea. I’m tired of chasing the clock, the calendar and my own tail, and I’m slacking off a little.

I skipped my poetry critique group this week; I didn’t have a poem to take, which is not a good reason not to go, but it’s OK that I’m not writing poetry right now, and it’s OK to stay home if I feel like it. I considered skipping choir practice this week, but if I don’t go Chloe will think she can skip kids’ choir, too. I’d also miss singing, and I don’t want to turn into a recluse.

On days when I have no commitments I try to avoid looking at the clock and just go with whatever I get involved in. This week it has been organizing and clearing out books. I bought my granddaughter a book, “Corduroy’s Easter,” which I’m virtually certain I brought into the house, and it has vanished. In searching everywhere for it I got involved in cleaning out bookcases and took a box of books to Half Price Books. I’ve also been studying my French a bit, planning our trip to England this summer, and working on the condo spring newsletter. I’m reading “The Book Thief,” by Markus Zusak, which I’m enjoying after slogging through “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen (what was Oprah thinking?) I stay up later and get up later, which means more reading and less working.

That’s the way retirement should be, right?

I’m thinking about revising “Radical Retirement” to “Rational Retirement.”


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