Pages

Monday, October 26, 2009

Adjusting: the other side of Heaven



We experience these flowers differently when up  close than when we view them from above.  When we stop working, we see the world in a new light.

I loved my work, but I didn't realize that it was killing me, slowly grinding me down to a pulp. It took all I had; it became who I was through and through, day and night, year in, year out.  In the last decade, before I retired, I was a school principal in a middle school, on the outskirts of L.A, working a seventy-hour week and loving every minute of it.

We don't realize how much a job defines us until it is behind us.  We had Sunday dinners at my house with all our children, two of whom are teachers, and the conversation usually moved to some aspect of education. My husband and the two spouses found this phenomenon tiring and boring; they intercepted conversations, interrupted with funny anectodes of something or other. But the conversation never really changed.  The educators in the room were educating everybody else about their passion. The air around us didn't smell of the lasagna or beef roast of the day; the air smelled of chalky  rooms, angry parents, maladjusted teens, victimized children, inept bureaucracies, lack of resources, abundance of violence, neglect, dirt and graffiti. We talked about our lives as though on a mission from God, and everybody else better stand back.

Suddenly without my reason for being, I had nothing to talk about. When I retired, I had nothing else. Literally. When I worked, I read newspapers and magazines just to have a brief experience with the world around me. I had no time for hobbies or interests, for reading or writing that was not related to my work. Even on vacation, I was writing lesson plans, visiting with local educators, comparing notes.

Life had been ordered, organized and precise, dictated by a school bell and a school calendar.

Now, hubby and I found ourselves together twenty-four hours a day, with nothing to talk about.

Stay tuned, our honeymoon was starting.

27 comments:

Journaling Woman said...

Conversation will come. I think it's sad that we define ourselves by our jobs. We all do it. I work in the IT department of our school district.

I am sure there is life outside a job. Right? Tell me there is!!!

Brian Miller said...

a telling post...we spend most of our waking hours on the job only to bring it home and talk about it more...

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Nice post. think we all face these silences at some point in marriage. But once the conversation starts up again, you realize why you're together in the first place!

Janna Qualman said...

You've put this very well. I feel that way about writing. Yes, there are quite a few other things that define me (motherhood a big one), but I think, breathe, smell, taste the written world. I loved that part in relation to the world you experienced during your dinner conversations. I so get that.

Eva Gallant said...

In the last 2 years before I retired I was working 60 hour weeks, and traveling out of state overnight two or three days per week. It was a shock when I stopped. I felt at sea with my existence. Nothing made sense when not defined by my day planner. It' took a few months, but now I am sooooo glad to be at home. I have been taking a night class once a week, going to the Silver Sneakers class at the gym two mornings a week, blogging, cooking, just plain enjoying!

Maggie May said...

I am doing part time work and looking after grandchildren.
This week is half term and I have more energy and I haven't got the children and I am having friends round that I don't normally see. So it is a lovely break.

I don't feel it necessary to talk all the time. In fact with the right person, silences can be normal and natural.

Nuts in May

Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

Love this ending line, "Stay tuned, our honeymoon was starting." Now each of you, free from the distractions of "assigned jobs" - are blessed with the opportunity to fully BE beyond the 'chit-chat'- you each to experience the moment NOW in all its gifted splendor - yes, a honeymoon for sure! HUGS to you and yours.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Been there, done that. I got out of the design business because it took all of my time and energy. And I've never looked back. Just yesterday I was offered a big commercial job and I turned it down, money isn't everything. Can't wait for the next installment.

potsoc said...

My wife worked with learning disabled children either in a psychiatric setting or within the school system. I worked with dysfunctional and delinquent families and children in voluntary and court settings..
We both felt a great compulsion to talk about something else when togheter and, later on with our children. Our camping weekends and vacations brought just the distraction we needed. Whensetting up tent or hooking a trailer there is no place for shop talk.
When the kids were gone and we were alone and retired, the silence was so nice, sitting togheter, looking at the scenery and listening to the music we liked.
Volunteering broght a sense of direction and belonging and work settings were mere memories.

willow said...

I know. It's kind of like flying off the hamster wheel and thinking, "Now what?"

ellen abbott said...

It's amazing really, that people who have been married 30 or more years, both worked, you only saw each other briefly in the morning and for a few hours at night, can easily not really know each other. Husband/Partner and I, having been together 24/7 for 30 some odd years are happy in silence most of the time.

Lori ann said...

I think it's lovely that you've had such a long marriage and are now in the honeymoon phase. Life is always interesting and never boring if your open to new ideas. You have set a good example. Looking forward to reading more.

Fire Byrd said...

Oh good I do love a happy ending or even a new beginning!

The Things We Carried said...

I love your blog. I look forward to every post and wonder what you will share. I appreciate what you have learned and what you write about here. Looking forward to where this post is going.

Thanks also for your the comments you leave at my blog!

Kathleen said...

Ouch. I just spent the weekend on a personal retreat. Needed to go because I was so spent from 2 months of 16-hour days (including weekends). I really had to explore why was allowing this to happen. There are some good reasons, having to do with a certain pandemic under way, but still! So I really appreciated reading your post. I slipped right back into the fray today. Clearly, I need all the reminders I can get!

Jennifer said...

The way you unfold the changing aspects of your life keep me coming back for more. Thank you and well done.

Nancy said...

Work can be so addicting. Literally a place to jump in and cover yourself up. My husband was very addicted to working. Hi pressure career as a CFO, that had his cell phone ringing constantly. It was quite an adjustment!

Woman in a Window said...

Rosaria, I love how this ended with the beginning of a honeymoon! A time of rebirth. That's one of the blessings of having fresh starts, there is a power of reinvention to come!

(I'm almost glad for no profession. I remember when I was involved in childcare and that was all that went in and came out of me. Now, it's a little of this and a little of that.)
xo
erin

Sophia said...

This is a really good post, and I appreciate your continued openness to share with us. I believe we all feel this way at different times in our lives, to different extents.

NitWit1 said...

Oh I am going to enjoy this. I am working on something similar---how a Type A (me)and Type Z [husband](exaggeration for B) marry for the 1s5 time in their 30s and have made it 40 years. Don;t know how man installments there will be of this one.

ds said...

I love that you feel the honeymoon is just beginning...Now that my "job" of 19 years has evolved into more of a consultancy, I find myself in a weird sort of limbo...
Teaching is the most difficult profession of all, and I think the most difficult to let go of (and yes, I am the daughter of a former teacher). Looking forward to the next installment.

Shadow said...

it's just takes some time for you to find and play your new song...

Kikit said...

A teacher has a very busy life indeed. My mother is also a retired teacher and when I was a kid, I remember she would bring her lesson plans and class record at home.

I find your last sentence the sweetest of all. Enjoy your honeymoon Rosaria!

the walking man said...

Yes i know this place of having to redefine your self for your self in order to move away from the self that was and into the slf yoou have to become to stay alive.

karen said...

Great - a whole new honeymoon! It must have been a huge adjustment, indeed..looking forward to more!

Kat said...

That happens to so many when they retire. My hubby SWEARS that it won't happen to him. That he will be just thrilled, but I don't know. It happened to his mother and he is so much like her.
I am staying tuned to hear the rest of the story!

Ribbon said...

Brilliant!

x Ribbon