When I was considering the decision to quit my day job, I kept running into retirees who said retiring was the best thing that ever happened to them. They were traveling the world and staying busier than ever. Of course, this was before COVID-19. My decision was also before COVID-19, but not long before.
My husband retired a number of years ago. Over the years I’ve heard accounts of husbands who made a nuisance of themselves after retirement and drove their wives nuts. My husband, in contrast, has always been easily entertained. Riding his tractor, scanning the internet, reading books and news stories … these activities keep him more than content. I worry that we could be the reverse of the norm … that I’ll be the one to drive him crazy.
I had plans, but so many of those plans feel by the wayside when COVID-19 struck. I had intended to travel to Japan in the springtime, join a bus trip to Machu Picchu, visit the south of France, and speak at some writers’ conferences. All canceled. I’ve been the principal bread winner for years, but I’ve never been good at practicalities. At the university I had a staff of people to help out when my computer or overhead projector refused to cooperate. At home I have trouble just navigating the remote controls to the stereo and television.
Look for your strengths, I tell myself, and use those to help others. In this COVID-19 world, however, speaking engagements are drying up, or transitioning to online opportunities for which I feel ill equipped. I’ve always fancied the idea of writing meaningful fiction, but on my darker days, I articulate my fears. What makes me think I have any talent? What in my lifetime has given me insights worth sharing or greater wisdom than anyone else who has lived, loved, and survived?
I grew up with a bipolar mother, so I’m familiar with depression. I know that you can’t overcome depression by simply willing it away or by counting your blessings. Yet, I’ve not often been depressed myself. Until lately. After a few days of the doldrums, my minister brings a YouTube lesson to my aid. He reminds us of Paul’s words, and the familiar message rings true. When we cannot change our circumstances, we must try to change our attitude. I need to learn “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
I also like this quote by Corrie Ten Boom: “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”