Sunday, 4 November 2012

How do I know it's Monday? And does it matter?

I'm 'retired'. I could blog about the definition of retirement. From my perspective it means not getting up five days a week, putting on work-clothes, slipping into work-thinking, leaving the house to drive somewhere, throw coffee and - if I'm lucky - a sandwich down my neck as the only way to get through the day, arriving home with barely enough energy to read a book. I means not thinking about work before I realise I'm awake. No, I don't do that any more.

Which means it is easy for one day to melt into another. I can sit in bed with a cup of tea and book in the morning, struggle downstairs for breakfast when I'm hungry. A friend might ring - shall we have coffee? Why not? The sun is shining; the forest is wonderful at this time of year. Maybe a grandchild will come over and we can kick through the leaves and come home with bits in our hair to warm our fingers on mugs of hot chocolate.

But, you are wondering, when do you write? Is that not work? In a way it's work - it gives me a purpose; I carry on doing it even when I don't feel like it, or the story won't tell itself. But I carry on because I know that such days are temporary, that I love the way words come out to play when I'm not looking - I write because I breathe. I don't sit with the computer at nine o'clock and refuse to move until lunchtime.

This is a long-winded way of saying that one day can be very like the next. Does that matter? Yes, I think it does. I still need a rhythm of weeks, a way of noticing the passing of time, anchors that make sense of seasons. I would feel too floaty without that. And so I have landmarks: the market on Saturday, choir on Monday evenings, a book group on Tuesdays - you get the picture. All activities I enjoy, of course; but they are more than that - they structure my week.

But I don't automatically know what day it is as I wake. I have to stop, as I pour my tea, and think - what day is it, what shape will it take? What choices do I have in that - to do something differently? To take myself off with a book, or sit at my computer and write?

It is a conscious decision to formulate my week like this. I reassures me, roots me in the reality of time passing. And you - are you happy to float along (lucky you!) or do you need to punctuate your days as I do?


  1. I definitely need punctuation Jo, I completely understand why you do. Otherwise time- the only real finite resource we have- and the one I value the most, simply melts away and we have no way of recognising it's passing. I love that I don't have the 7:30- 6:30 grind any more and that every week is different as chunks are allocated to clients, depending on their needs, but I still have large bits for me. So I may not get all I want done, but it is like being released from prison.

  2. Most of my life I have worked freelance and T has either been freelance or in the BBC, working odd hours. I really like it that way, and it has been quite a novelty to me on the rare occasions when I've had to get up and get out every day. I have never liked sticking to a regular routine but actually it can al;so be tiring to bear in mind the details of a busy work week with absolutely no external structure. It also means that when you are working on a project to a deadline, it's hard to get people off the line if they just want a chat. Still, we are both doing much less work than we were, and there are other things to do instead, so I suppose that counts as a sort of retirement!

  3. I would love to be retired now, Jo. I can't wait. I have so many things I would much rather be doing than working. Officially, I cannot retire until I'm 67 (that's the current retirement age for someone with my year of birth), but I cannot wait another ten years, so I'm hoping my writing will give me some independence before then.

  4. Thank you all - isn't it interesting, this relationship between our attitude to work and how we understand time.

    (Keep writing, Val - I can recommend independence!)

  5. I set the alarm Monday to Friday so that it feels different from the weekend. Mind you, I used to wake up many a time when I was teaching and struggle to remember what day it was.

    1. Interesting, that you still feel the need - as I think many of us do - to see the weekend as 'different' even though we are no longer working. Though I can't face an alarm. (And I know what you mean about mixing up days when you're working!)

  6. I've no idea why blogger doesn't like comments from Emma Pass, but they come to my email - so here are her thoughts:

    "I love the way words come out to play when I'm not looking - I write because I breathe."

    LOVE this! Great post, Jo! :)

  7. Rosalind sent me over and I'm glad she did! It sounds like you're enjoying your retirement, and the best part is that you're still setting goals. Nicely written! Julie