Thinking vaguely about retiring. Or, to be more precise, about drifting into retirement. Gradually becoming more selective about the kinds of things I do. Turns out this is one of the benefits of being self-employed: You can retire gradually.

I expect I’ll keep writing for the music magazines for a long time to come. For one thing, I love getting free software to play with! But some recent physical problems with my left hand have shown me that my days as a cello teacher are numbered. I don’t know the number, but the number is writ in the place where such things are writ.

I’ve always enjoyed good health, and I’ve always (in recent years, anyway) had a very positive attitude about my activities. My plan for growing older is, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

It occurred to me last night that I’m operating under a false assumption. The assumption is that for as long as I live, I’ll be able to keep doing what I’m doing.

Today I love playing the piano. I play for an hour or so every day. But I’m remembering my parents’ friend Roger. Roger switched to electronic organ as he got older, because the sound of the piano became harsh as his ears deteriorated.

Today I love playing the cello. But why put myself through the wringer by playing in a local pit orchestra? That’s not a peak music-making experience, it’s a grind — a pit experience, if you will. Every hour I spend playing the cello should be an hour of unalloyed pleasure.

Today I love reading. And my eyes still work. But the truth is, my left eye works better than my right one. At any moment I could find myself otherwise healthy but unable to read. Yeah, there are books for the blind, but it’s not the same thing. For one thing, a lot of the things I read are not mainstream. They won’t have been recorded.

So as I contemplate my piecemeal retirement plan, I need to be conscious of the need to create more free time to do things while I’m still young enough that I can physically do them.

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4 Responses to Retirement

  1. Conrad says:

    Hey, you could retire to Cambodia. The cost of living is less, and it’s a really good place to cultivate misanthropy.


  2. Robin Hobb says:

    “Leaving The Station”

    Just finished reading this tonight, in the December Asimov’s.

    Don’t know about your retiring from your other interests, but I do think your time invested in writing is worth while.

    I very much enjoyed this tale. It was a nice break in a day of feeling like I’m going to have the flu any minute while surviving my youngest child’s senior year of high school.

    Thanks for Joan and her story.

    Robin Hobb

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