Jack loved to be out in the garden. Since moving into his retirement home six months previous, he’d decided that fifty years of his working life spent mostly behind a desk or in conference rooms should be filed away for good. Life henceforth would consist of as many outdoor activities he could manage to fit into the day. The fatigue of his last year of work had lifted as if a miracle had been performed when office workers handed him their retirement gifts; he was filled with a new energy. Gardening was an activity where he could find release for pent up energy perhaps?
One of his retirement gifts had been a book on plants and gardens. Jack diligently studied that book the day after his retirement function, and found a list of plants, flowers and bushes, with their particular do’s and don’ts. It was so comprehensive and complicated he was almost tempted to cross gardening off his list of fun things to do. He did decide to keep the book though when a decision was made as to what should be discarded in the move to the retirement location. While unpacking, the book was relegated to the back section of a bookcase.
With unpacking completed he wondered what to do next. He was unsure what should follow once pictures were attached to walls, furniture placed, and household effects placed in their new locations. For a few days he luxuriated in newfound freedom to do what he pleased without the regimentation of a work program. Over the years he’d wistfully looked forward to a time when he could choose to read a book or engage in some other form of recreational activity. Usually those thoughts came when he was chairing a difficult meeting or struggling with strategic goals in a hostile environment. Now that he had the freedom to follow his dream, he felt he should be doing something useful with his time and such thoughts spoilt that dream. He felt resentful his habits of hard regimented work were spoiling well-earned retirement.
Reluctantly he conceded he’d have to ease into the freedom of retirement by creating a weekly schedule. Planning was a part of his life, so this could be the solution to habit and practicality each pulling him in different directions. He scheduled waking time, exercise, trips to town, yard maintenance, keeping up with professional journals and social life. This was designed to convince him he was still useful, while cleverly disguising the fact most activities were now of a recreational nature. It was not very long before that schedule was more notable for exceptions rather than attachment to routines.
Jack was challenged by the Spartan appearance of the yard of this new home. The developers had taken particular care with the front of the house and it looked very attractive, but within the confines of the fenced in area it lacked imagination. This offended Jack’s sense of orderliness and beauty. He began to disregard his time schedule and spend more time landscaping the yard and building garden areas. It was at this point in time he conducted a search for the book on plants and gardens. It took time to dig it out as the library was now scattered in bookcases strategically placed around the house. At last it was located and put into use.
Jack found a new avenue for his creativity in the landscaping exercise, and in later care of gardens. It was then he realized a transition had taken place in his life, and he no longer needed to work to a regimented schedule. That realization came gradually; almost without thought. He could at last be freed from the strictures he’d placed himself under during his working life and begin to enjoy the freedom of retirement.
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