It’s been a year now since I’ve retired from teaching, and I’m sure it will surprise no one when I say retirement is GREAT! Every now and then a friend approaching retirement age will ask, “Do you ever get bored?” My response to that is an unqualified “Heck no!”
Sometimes someone will counter with, “Yes, but you have a hobby. . .”
A hobby? No, I say gently, my writing is not a hobby. It’s a vocation. I was a poet before teaching, I am a poet after teaching, and God/Goddess willing, I will be a poet for many life times to come.
But I do have a secret: sometimes I have as much trouble getting myself to write as I did when I was working. Hmmm—looking back at that sentence, I feel an urge to paraphrase Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: I have trouble getting myself to write? Sounds like there are two of me, and if that’s the case, one of us doesn’t exist!
When I first retired, I often said to friends and family, “Oh, I haven’t gotten myself into a routine yet, but I will soon.” Again sounds like half of me is an animal that the other half is itching to domesticate and whip into shape! Well, guess what? Both sides of me are coming to realize that it ain’t gonna happen.
Two and a half years ago I moved to a house with a big yard, so I started a vegetable garden. There are seasons in the garden, times that require a great deal of labor and vigilance, times to enjoy the bounty and times when the land lies fallow.
And so it is with my writing. For decades I had to squeeze writing time into any open space I could find: an hour before work, a half hour in a coffee house before meeting friends for dinner at the restaurant across the street, a few lines jotted in my notebook while my students were at recess. This past year I wanted to find some sacred time for my writing, an inviolable hour or two each day when I would set pen to page. But that hasn’t happened. I still squeeze my writing in between weeding the veggie patch, cleaning the cat’s litter box, harvesting the plum tree, watching TV and darting out to have lunch with friends. Yet I’m writing more than I have in years. Something is working!
In Care of the Soul, James Moore says caring for the soul begins with observation, a word, he says, that “comes from ritual and religion. It means to watch out for but also to keep and honor. . .” He likens it to tending sheep: “. . .we keep an eye on its (the soul’s) sheep, on whatever is wandering and grazing. . .”
I observe and tend my writing this way, as if my muse was a flock of fluffy, multicolored animals. In much the same way I tend my garden, and year past I tended my students when I was teaching.
But now I am also venturing deeper into the world of social media. I am tending this blog, a facebook page and a twitter account. There is an inevitability about this, an agreement among those working in publishing today that we authors must build a platform to display our work, to show we can adequately market our wares. So here I am tending this new field. This is not easy for an introvert like myself, and I am very open to suggestions.
So welcome! Come in! Let’s grow a garden together.
Please tell me about your experiences in social media. I am eager to learn!