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When you retire early after a flourishing career, everyone wants to know why. Here is a successful woman’s thoughtful response on early retirement.
This write-up is partly fiction, partly factual and auto-biographical. Any resemblance to any person, place or context is purely coincidental!
Random Anybody (RA) was curious to talk to MayaVee (MV) and know all about her sudden early retirement from a lucrative career; here is the interview that RA had with MV.
RA: Hello, MayaVee
RA: Tell us in brief, about yourself.
MV: Hmmm…(confused what to say)…Born and brought up in Bangalore to doting parents, pampered and tantrum throwing child! Later, a serious student who chose to study commerce when studying science was the norm. Got married at the end of her teenage years, became a happy housewife, and motherhood followed. One fine day, decided she needs to get out of the four walls of the house and take up a job, to enrich her life; a bird poised to fly, knowing well that parents and hubby are always there to support her.
After almost 22 years of my career, here I am now – you can call me a housewife, retiree, a pensioner, book lover (read, book worm), music student and budding artist.
RA: Ok, but why quit such a well paying job? You could have achieved much more in your career if you did not retire early.
MV: Oh…the ubiquitous question! I don’t have a precise answer though. Well, let me explain by way of a story.
I intended to go on a long journey and hopped on to a bus, then at the next station, I got into a taxi. Moving still further, I was in a train, and was enjoying the journey all along. I was told that in the near future, I could travel by by air (initially by economy class and later will be ‘promoted ‘ to business class) and if lucky I would get my own chopper in the last leg of my journey. I was also told that the journey would be scenic, and I could watch all those landscapes – clouds, sky, rivers, trees etc, while moving on the train or through the windows of the aeroplane or helicopter. I was told finally that when I became old and exhausted, I would reach a mountainous valley, where I could settle down with fellow travellers.
Well, it was all very tempting, to imagine oneself moving ahead in the journey; to experience ever greater enjoyment along with these perks and I was looking forward to the day when I would reach the mountain top.
Then, one day, the train stopped at a small town. I got down and wandered around and found myself at the beach nearby. I stood staring at the magnificent ocean. The sandy beach, the crashing waves, the lighthouse, boats and ships sailing, the gentle breeze, swaying palms…the sight simply took my breath away and my heart flipped. I knew at that moment, that this is where I wanted to be. I wanted to have a small boat of my own and go sailing, I wanted to walk on the beach and get soaked by the waves without looking at the clock, without worrying about wasting time. I wanted to smell the salty wind and gaze at the flying birds and dance in the rain. I wanted to lie down on the sand and simply gaze at the palms in the daytime, and the stars and the moon at night.
This was my moment of truth. I didn’t want to be longingly gazing at the passing clouds and colours of the sky from my moving train; I wanted to watch the sunrise or sunset standing still, in reverence to the play of nature and enjoy its glory. I wanted to be out in the open, as free as the wind, wandering wherever I wanted. The decision was made – to slow down, stop, rest and to stay here forever.
I hurriedly walked back to my train and gathered my belongings ready to alight. While I lugged the heavy baggage, feeling anxious that the train would move, my fellow passengers (some of whom had become very close friends during the journey) gave me questioning looks. I said, “Bye dear friends, I want to stay in this place, I am getting off the train, will miss you all, keep in touch.”
There was a hush in the compartment and I could not comprehend the looks on their faces.
Then they started reacting in myriad ways, with an unending number of questions. “What did you find in this place? Why now? What about the journey by air and your own helicopter, why don’t you pursue them? What will you do here, on a silly boat which you don’t even know how to row? How long can you gaze at the sky and collect seashells? You will get bored and it won’t earn you money. Are you mad? Why are you taking such a foolish decision? Why don’t you just continue the journey, the destiny is so close? Why should you choose a beach and sea in place of the lofty high mountain? You will miss the familiar friendly gang.”
My answer came with a convincing smile, “Thank you for all the concern. I have enjoyed the journey all along, but now, this is what I really want. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but at least once in life, one thing is clear to me, that this is where I want to be. Let me go…”
That’s it…sorry for the looong answer, but I have to explain, you know!
RA: What was the reaction of your family and friends?
MV: In short, they were ok with it, if not very encouraging or supportive. Because they too had their own questions and confusion, as to why this ‘sudden decision’. However, my family came to take me home. That’s enough, I don’t expect anything more than that. I felt happy that I have their support on my journey ahead which I have chosen for myself.
RA: How did you feel the first day after coming home and thereafter?
MV: Again, I will explain by way of an imaginary situation. You know, during our working days, it was as through all the time, we were at the rail station, surrounded by noise and hustle bustle, chai-wallahs, porters, train announcements etc., and we ourselves had our duties there, slogging away. Of course we were allowed to go to airport for rest, two days a week (weekend!), where the ‘noise’ used to be lesser, or for a few days a month, we took a break (vacation/LFC), when we went to a religious place, with all the chanting and loudspeakers or to a tourist place, where we let go of ourselves, where the mind would feel peaceful and carefree; yet, with fleeting thoughts about the hectic routine at the rail station, we invariably came back to our routine.
All along I wished and craved for more time for myself, more time to spend with my family, more energy, more happiness and contentment.
Back to the present, after coming home, it was as though I was transported from the noisy surroundings to a completely silent place like a quiet meditation hall. It was unnerving and frightening at first, to get used to all the silence.
Also, I expected that all those acquaintances in my career, who needed me , who depended on me so much in all these years, would keep calling me with various queries or would have news and happenings to share with me. But I was amazed to know that no one missed me! I used to gaze at my smartphone – not a message, no phonecall, nothing, just Silence. It took me a few days to realise that the world does not stop; it goes on, ‘with you or without you’. So the answer was clear – the world will function fine without you, and instead of waiting for the world to pave the way for you, you have to create your own way.
I nurtured a precious friendship with many colleagues and look forward to meet them occasionally.
RA: So what are doing now? How do you engage yourself? Being busy all these days, you must be finding a lot of free time and not knowing what to do with it?
MV: Yes and no.
Free time, no. Because first I am a home maker, which in itself is a full time job with a long list of things to be done around the house. I am happy to cook for my family and be there to attend to their needs, to attend family get-togethers, meet relatives, and other such social commitments. If there is any free time after all this, I am a lazy person and love doing nothing, which I am indulging in now.
Also I have a list of hobbies (more than 50!) which I love, such as music, painting, gardening. Earlier, I could not pursue these due to my hectic schedule and time constraints. I have begun to take baby steps in this direction.
RA: Are you looking for an alternative career then, maybe earning some money out of your hobbies?
MV: No, never, I have had enough of it. If in due course, my hobby brings in some extra money, I don’t mind, but I will never go after it. My creative journey is what matters to me.
RA: On a final note, what message would you like to give to our readers?
MV: You have but one life. Live it as you would like to, give yourself permission to be happy. Take your own decisions, whether good or bad and face life head on. Try to help others as much as you can, but help yourself first, always. Know Thyself – it’s an eternal quest.
Top image via Pexels
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