It’s all perfectly logical, I suppose. Sixty is the new forty, orange is the new black (although I have no idea what that actually means). Everything is the new something*.
At this point you’re probably thinking – assuming you haven’t already clicked away in your restless search for that new cat video – ‘What the hell is he on about now, and what’s all this about retirement being the new work?’
Well, I’ll tell you. Today’s offering in the list of ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’ is one of those mad ‘creative writing’ exercises whereby we’re supposed to establish a post title by taking, in this case, the fourth and fourteenth words from a favourite blog, drop them into the phrase ‘_____is the new ____’ and take it from there. Oh God.
Now, I don’t do creative writing and nor am I particularly enthused about these random exercises that WordPress occasionally throws up (a phrase I use advisedly). However, on this occasion I tried, I really did. Sad to say, though, making sense of prompts such as ‘days is the new email’ or ‘of is the new recently’ is quite beyond me.
Another combination that popped up was: ‘I is the new isn’t’ This has a certain existential allure, although with my lugubrious temperament I’m not sure that’s a road I want to go down.
But – and this is the real point of prompts, of course – it set me thinking. And inevitably, as it’s a state I’ve only been in for just over two years, my thoughts turned to retirement, which I now realise is the new work. Not that I’m pining in any way for my previous, ‘working’ life, you understand, but I’m still feeling my way into this new mode of existence.
I’ve got far enough into it to know that it’s one I hope to enjoy for many years yet. Apart from the fact that the alternative is not particularly palatable, as a point of honour I want to get all my money – and more – back from my pension providers. And give the actuarial tables one in the eye at the same time.
I suppose it’s still possible to stop working and not do something else to fill your days; and if you were totally absorbed in your work, the post-retirement gap might be traumatically difficult to fill. Honestly, though, the first option never occurred to me and as for the second, I always found that work was getting in the way of my leisure interests rather than vice versa.
This retirement lark isn’t all self-indulgence, however. Living in the French countryside has introduced a range of new but necessary tasks that I can’t quite think of as anything other than work: cutting the grass, keeping the weeds down, stacking logs ready for winter. Inevitably, these have come to occupy some of what I fondly, if naively, imagined would be my wall-to-wall free time.
That’s perfectly okay, though, because at least I know I’m doing useful things and, having done them, I can feel that I’ve ‘earned’ the time to write this blog, or take my photographs, or try to figure out how the bloody hell you create masking layers in Photoshop. Or what the bloody hell a masking layer even is,
So, content with my lot, I’ll just keep plugging away. Until ‘isn’t’ becomes the new ‘is’.
*These ‘x is the new y’ cliches are called snowclones apparently. You learn something every day.