Reflections in the rearview mirror.

When someone has been very ill – near to death perhaps – and recovered, it seems common for them to say that the experience has given them a new perspective on life: a clearer focus on what’s important, and what is not worth worrying about.

Retirement has had elements of that for me. After taking early retirement from a job I’d done for more than thirty years, two things struck me fairly early: how did I keep up the work tempo as much as I had (leaving for work before 6.30am, juggling different work commitments, etc)?; and why had I frequently been so anxious about it all? If I had seen those questions more clearly at the time I was working and done something about them (relax a bit more!), I probably wouldn’t have needed quite so much to stop work at the time I did.

Retirement isn’t issue free of course, but it certainly puts past work anxieties into perspective. It’s surprising too how quickly the work routine dims – something that went on so long and figured so prominently, quickly becoming a thing of the past. I understand better now the comment I once heard from my (retired) friend who asked a not-very-long-retired acquaintance ‘What sort of work did you do?’, only for the latter to reply, ‘Can’t remember’. It’s starting to feel a bit like that for me too, and it’s not (just) senility setting in!

Paul

Emeritus Professor

United Kingdom