I’m on a short break holiday abroad writing this, the first holiday I have taken in my “early retirement”. I used to wonder if I’d feel differently on holiday now that I’m not working, and the answer is “maybe”. Of course, not having any work to go back to, well, it’s hard to see a downside on that aspect. But I haven’t escaped any work either and I have missed that frisson of excitement on leaving the “Out of Office” message on Outlook.
On the other hand, no return to five hundred emails either, of which I would read the two from the boss and the two from clients. The rest sat with the other nine thousand “unread” in my inbox. (I jest not on the number, although that was about five years’ worth. Corporate life combined with shoddy email management.)
When on holiday from work, I always used to suffer “imaginary holiday envy” because of the sheer lack of exciting things my family did compared to the ideal families in the adverts. No paragliding for us. No long camel rides into an Arabian sunset. No awe-inspiring canoe trips up the Amazon. No sitting with my wife at a beachside Caribbean restaurant table as she stared devotedly into my eyes in sheer wonder that she’d married such a hunk, while waves crashed on a nearby shore. When I thought about it, all we did on holiday was the same as what we did with our leisure time at home, except we did more of it. A bit of shopping, a bit of walking into town for a coffee, a bit of reading books, reading the papers, eating out and so on. Maybe I’d play some golf. Relaxing from work, that’s what we did, and we enjoyed it.
Now I’m not working, I tell you, I do shitloads of walking into town, reading, going for coffees, shopping (groceries only though), playing golf, eating out and, I hate to admit, it is all in danger of becoming Really Effing Boring. All that sweet relaxing stuff is now my New Normal.
Once retired, if you tell people that you have reached that stage of life, they often make a remark such as “Permanent holiday, eh?” They could be right, but I’m not so sure. If I go back to work then I am certain that I will feel this stage of my life was a long, enjoyable holiday. A break from work. The first three months of my enforced retirement absolutely felt like that and I was on Cloud Nine. If I’m honest though, I also felt during that time that I would – probably – return to the workplace. I told people I was retired, but didn’t truly believe it (and still don’t). I now feel that if I really never return to paid employment, then this won’t feel like a holiday at all. It will just feel like my latest version of living, not that much different from your working life, providing that on the whole that you quite enjoy working and what it has to offer. And, on the whole, I did enjoy working. Okay, I now don’t have the boss paying my wages, but he’s been replaced by my investment funds paying my wages, and it’s them that now dictate my future retirement career.
So, as I sit here burning cash that maybe I will regret spending in twenty year’s time, I reflect that holidays are still a great break, still almost necessary and will still remain a part of my life going forward. But maybe next year I will try some paragliding.