Wednesday, February 7, 2007

NOT Retirement

As most of you know, Dar and I are planning a big change in our life. No, not divorce. Instead, we’re going to divest ourselves of a good number of our possessions, as well as the house we own, in order to spend a few years “on the road”, living in a big ol’ RV, seeing and experiencing North America. Some people, who hear about this, ask “why?” I ask in return, “why not?” But, since we’re not totally crazy (I don’t think) and since we have a few real reasons, allow me to try and respond to “why?”
First, a desire to find the place we’d like to spend the rest of our lives. Since we were married 30-some years ago, we’ve moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota to Florida, back to Wisconsin, back to Minnesota, out to Washington, and then to Illinois. While there are some things we like about the Chicago Metro area, there is no driving reason to keep us here. We have friends and family all over the country, but not a critical mass in this, or any other, place. Ideally, we’d like a more moderate climate, a lower cost of living, fewer crowds and congestion, and more laid-back lifestyle. Our favorite grand-kid, our only grand-kid, lives with his Mom and Dad in Washington, so, by default, that’s high on the list. Our son currently lives and works in the Chicago area, but he is considering a change of venue himself. In any event, we want to take our time and wander the U.S. for a while before deciding.
Second, to more deeply experience the real U.S… and I don’t mean the big cities and population centers where most people now live. We want to see and experience the land and the people on it, the history of this country, to see where we’ve come from and, perhaps, get a sense of where its all going. Outdoor recreation is also high on our list: hiking, kayaking, and cycling. We’d like to express ourselves creatively by writing and photographing what we experience.
Finally, to escape, at least temporarily, facing our mortality. We’re in our mid-50’s, and friends and acquaintances are dropping over at an increasing rate. Each one of them remind us “if you don’t do it now, just when will you do it?” I know this is natural process, very normal, and there’s nothing we can do to stop the inevitable. But, at least for a while, we can do something different, something crazy. We can experience and enjoy life in a way we haven’t done before. Remember the old adage that, in the end, people don’t regret the things they’ve done… it’s the things they don’t do that they regret. For years our “raison d’etre” was raising our two children and getting them set off on a good path. That completed, simply saving more in fear of unknown problems as we age isn’t, for us, that driving reason for being, that purpose… at least at this point in our lives.
This is not retirement. We don’t have a desire to retire, maybe ever. We’re referring to this as a sabbatical. In academia, a sabbatical refers to a year off every seven. Since we’ve been working for over 30 years, we think we have about 4 years in our sabbatical bank. Whether we use all four in this endeavor remains to be seen. At some point, we fully expect to get back to work again… be it a small business, professional engagements, or traditional jobs for pay.
So, in a nutshell, that’s it. Why?… Why not?