My so called life

April 16, 2020

One positive thing the coronavirus has demonstrated is the broad adaptive range of the human mind. People have been doing amazing things to remain active and engaged within the confines of stay-at-home quarantining. Still, there’s great impatience to get daily life back to normal. In other words, hitting the snooze alarm and wishing it was Saturday rather than Tuesday. Getting the kids up and ready for school, figuring out a meal plan for dinner, fitting the routine errands around your work schedule, commuting traffic, blowing off the trip to the gym because you’re just too exhausted from all of the above. In other words, you want back what used to drive you to the edge of insanity day in and day out.

There’s another way to look at what we’re all experiencing. Call it a window into your future retirement. You can divide the working world into two groups, though by no means of equal size. One group is composed of working people who can’t wait until the day they can retire. The other (and I would think the much smaller of the two groups) represents those who don’t even want to think of retirement, because they have no idea what they’re going to do with all that free time.

“I was ready for retirement the first day I packed a lunch and ate it in my car in the company parking lot,”

My suggestion is to think of the quarantine as retirement. (Parents of schoolchildren might object here, but you’ll be amazed at how often grandchildren will be dumped off at your house, so I’m discounting that variable.)

If you’re struggling with the day to day of the quarantine, chances are you will struggle with the day to day of retirement when it comes. If you’re busy and engaged and see each stay-at-home day as a fresh challenge, you’re likely ready for retirement today.

I was ready for retirement the first day I packed a lunch and ate it in my car in the company parking lot, so I’m not a good example in this discussion. But the key to successful retirement is structure: a plan for the day along with a time frame to execute the plan. Getting up at noon and spending the day in sweatpants is perfectly acceptable for the first week or two of retirement, as it might have been for the first week or two of stay-at-home. But it’s not sustainable. Unless, of course, you’re me, and judging from Carol’s observations on the subject, you don’t want to be me.

I will argue that I do have a structure that dates back to my days as a full time freelancer, a time cynics would date as the start of my retirement. All-day sweatpants aside, there was structure to my days. I never missed a deadline, most times completing the assignment either days or a week or two early. True enough, the horizons of freelancer to retiree to stay-at-home quarantine are relatively featureless ones in terms of challenges, the key remains one of structure in order to add topography to that outlook.

I would share details of the structure of my stay-at-home day, but I’ve promised Carol in my marriage vows I would not knowingly embarrass her in public. Suffice it to say, when my head hits the pillow at night, I sleep the sleep of the righteous.

Just as I do during allocated periods of the day.

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