I’ve decided to go oars up. I’ve got to stop work for now. I’m not a rower, but I do like the image of rowing or paddling and then pulling those babies out of the water to glide for a bit.
According to the No Boats on Sunday Cider website, noboatscider.com, going #OarsUp means taking a break. Their current advertising campaign is perfect for summer. #SlowDownOarsUp. The No Boats on Sunday brand is all about pulling your oars up regularly (no boats = no work) to spend time doing things you love with people you love. They recommend that we slow down and savour their beverages and also the activities that we do when we’re relaxing. It all fits in well with our culture’s current focus on mindfulness. It reminds me of the Slow Food and Slow Living movements, all the Slow things.
I’ve left my 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job after nearly 7 years there. At CWNC, we were working the whole time during the pandemic and it was brutal. The engineers were working in the lab, and there was always a skeleton crew there to support them. I was lucky to be able to work from home almost exclusively. I worked more than ever though; working from home was very intense. The intense focus on work was unhealthy. We couldn’t socialize because of COVID, but I wouldn’t have had the energy to do anything else but work anyway.
Thinking about my obsessive relationship with work, I realized that it wasn’t just during the pandemic that I was always exhausted by work and neglecting my family and home and many of the things I loved to do. It was like that from the beginning, and it never got better. At first, I thought it was just because I was starting late, at age 50, to enter the rat race. That was part of it for sure, but it wasn’t the whole story. It wasn’t something I got used to. I got caught up in the pressure of it. I tried for a while to slow down at work, to try to stop working overtime and stop worrying about deadlines and audits and targets, but, it didn’t work. I was driven and I thought it was a good thing, a good work ethic, the right one. But, at some point in the past few years, I lost my passion, my joy. Sometimes I felt righteous about working hard and it wasn’t pretty. I prefer my old Pollyanna self. She was fun and sunny.
I decided to retire. I’m too young to retire at 57, and I don’t get a pension and I didn’t get a retirement party or a gold watch, but I am hanging up those particular oars. The good side of this retirement is that I’m not 65, still young. And, I’m open to working again, just not in a corporate setting. I’ll take the summer off, mostly, and then I’ll see what’s next, or maybe something will come up. But, it will be Slow.
I want to paddle a canoe on a lake for real. And, take breaks to have a picnic or do some fishing. I’ll row a rowboat too. I love the serenity of gliding on the water. I want to sing and dance and hug people. I want to write and draw and tell stories. I want to take care of my home and family. I want to take time to nurture my friendships.
I like the idea of Slow Food, and Slow Living. I like Slow Ageing (I'm going to have to look into that more and I'll share what I learn). Down-Shifting is supposedly popular. Working less as a pre-retirement or gradual transition to retirement makes it more possible to leave the workforce while still healthy. The driving analogy is good. I'm not slamming on the breaks, just shifting down. Simple living or minimalism are also out there as options, but I like the idea of slowing down, and staying slow, still paddling but calmly and mindfully with lots of breaks.
And, I'm back to writing. Slow writing and positive thoughtfulness, mindfulness, curiosity, creativity, passion and joy will rule again.