"Busy, Very Busy"
Six months after George's retirement, I asked, "How are you doing these days?"
"I'm busy, very busy. I'm busier now than before I retired."
His words shocked me. I thought retirement meant cessation of work and an opportunity to relax and enjoy sitting on the porch or taking a daily nap. I've since heard those same words from others.
Those statements imply the significance of productivity—of usefulness—of having value because of what they accomplish. Some of us hold the secret fear that if we don't keep doing something practical we're worth nothing. Therefore, we keep proving we're significant by our output.
For most of my life, that's been true of me. It's taken me years to say that staying constantly on the go doesn't make me a more worthwhile person. It means I've missed out on simple pleasures because I didn't want to "waste" time, and every minute had to count for something.
Maybe that's why God created our bodies to wear out—we're forced to slow down, to do less, and to appreciate the quiet moments of life.
Some may laugh that I'd talk about retiring and relishing life because I stay busy. Some days that reality saddens me because I'm not apt at doing nothing.
By contrast, the first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, written in 1647, goes this way: "What is the chief end of man? [We'd say humanity today.] The answer: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."
Most of us don't grasp that second part. To enjoy God certainly means to find pleasure in being alive. Many of us are too busy to delight—regularly—in the things of life.
This year, I’m intentionally slowing down and moving toward a full retirement. Each morning I remind myself (and the words are true), “I’m working less and enjoying my life more.”
I don't know when I'll fully retire, but I already have an answer I want to give when someone asks, "What are you doing since you retired?"
"Not very much."