Inside my head, this clearing is a rite of passage, part of my continuing transition from working (and heavily volunteering) to retirement, or the next phase of retirement. Last week, for example, I finally tossed the last of the work-related files I'd been saving. I suppose I always knew I wouldn't need them, but they represented so much thought and effort that it was impossible to walk away without at least a few. Now retired five years, I was happy to march those papers out to the recycling barrel. Similarly, I had stockpiled a resume and work samples in case I wanted, or needed, to freelance. Opportunities were out there, but I decided almost immediately that I was no longer interested. Tossing the stack of samples--five years later--made it official.
The thing about sorting papers is that it's almost impossible to do without reading through them. So we are reminded of triumphs and struggles, of people who helped us and people who didn't, of projects we intended to undertake once we retired. Having walked down memory lane, as contained in my desk and file cabinet, I've learned two main lessons.
I have very little interest in keeping records of my past life, be they related to work, finances, health, whatever. Of course I keep what I might need, but my definition of "need" is a lot stricter than it used to be.
I am ready to get on with my life, and one big commitment seems to be standing in the way. I have projects all over the place, in various stages of readiness, and they all require two things: space and time. I have sewing projects promised to the grandchildren; boxes of old photos to scan, color-correct, and share; a counted cross-stitch I started a dozen years ago; a new interest in knitting and crochet; a back porch to design; music playlists to organize; birds to discover; a blog to rejuvenate, and so much more. Plus a growing stock of items I plan to sell on eBay, some of which I've already photographed and written up.
All these projects are calling to me. But before I can respond I have to make space and time. And the element taking up the biggest share of my office space, energy, and time is my commitment to the carousel and the nonprofit organization that cares for it.
When I wrote last week's post about the graphic design project from hell, my frustration was only partly with the technical difficulty of the work. The project had gone on, episodically, for weeks. How-to books and sample pages and notes buried everything else on my desk. I became resentful. I began to rail against it. I wanted to walk away. I wanted to sew and knit and clean out closets, and get on with getting on, and let somebody else worry about promoting the carousel. And in fact, I will--but not today. Peter and I will both retire and our executive director, in the job for a year now, will take on or delegate work we have been doing. But there is much to be done before we retire, and in the meantime I really do enjoy working collaboratively with our staff person. For a while yet, I will do whatever it takes to get the project done.
In the past several days I have finally cleared the scrambled piles on my desk, arranging things in folders: red for carousel projects (e.g., display panels, Facebook page, new website) and yellow for personal ones (e.g., porch, taxes, eBay).
When the time does come to walk away from the carousel's management, I will be a little sad to leave behind what has been a consuming and highly rewarding family commitment. But I'll be ready for all the new projects in their newly organized spaces. In fact, having cleared a bit of space, I'm pretty sure I'll find some time for new projects as well as old ones.
|Spring flowers above from Como Park conservatory 2013