Machu Picchu, 2011

It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years since I visited this awe-inspiring place. I was still married, still working freelance for McGraw-Hill Education as a photographer, still had a gallery in Tucson, and even still painted a bit. The thought of writing a novel, much less two or three, hadn’t even crossed my mind.

Now, I’m seven years divorced, my grandkids from that marriage are 14 and 19, I’m retired in Oaxaca, just published my second novel, and am working on my third. This year I allowed both my painting and my photography websites to expire. I rarely take photos except with my phone, and I see no paintings in my future (although no door is ever closed).

Many people feel lost when they retire. Their identity through life is wrapped up in and dependent upon their work. In the United States, very few of us have more than two weeks of vacation a year. We work all week and spend the weekend doing chores, watching TV, online, and occasionally socializing with family and friends. We cram so much into the two weeks off that we can’t even relax before we have to get back to work again. We spend our money on things we are told we need or should want.

In the end, it is empty. When we retire, what do we have except back to back weekends with TV, internet, and friends and family we don’t know what to do with after a few hours?

I feel lucky. My work was never my identity. I was an artist. Not a hobbyist, an artist. The only reason I had jobs was to pay for the basic necessities of life. My jobs were never my identity, except for my brief stint photographing for McGraw-Hill. I didn’t have children so I wouldn’t have the responsibility. Maybe I missed out, but I do have two wonderful grandchildren from my marriage. When I retired, I wasn’t abandoning my identity, I was freed to pursue it full time.

That identity has always been “creator”, whether it be painting, photography, or writing. That is who I will be until I die, hopefully a long time from now.

7 thoughts on “123

  1. I well remember that trip and the photos from it. I was watching a Netflix series that showed a lot fo views of Petra and I was thinking fondly of your trip to Jordan. A lot of us at McGraw-Hill lived vicariously through those images!

  2. well said, all of that. It is something I’ve often thought about in my support of basic income, there are undoubtedly many people who would not know what to do with the time it could free up for them, and I think that’s one of the reasons many are against it, because they erroneously assume everybody else would just be lazy and not know what to do with themselves and thus get up to no good. When in fact it is often the pursuit of attempting to earn a living that drives people to getting up to no good. A friend of mine once asked her retired friend why he assumed other people would be lazy when he was not, his pension being in fact a sort of basic income. Having no real response, and being forced to either admit to feelings of self-exceptionalism or admit to the rationality of her point, he chose the latter. Anyway let me stop blogging in the comments of your blog. 😀
    I myself have also never identified myself with jobs [of course I’ve rarely held one long enough to begin to]. Jobs have always just been a means to aquire my basic minimum needs. And I’ve never had a problem filling up any of my time without them. So if I ever get to retire, I am totally prepared for all that free time, in fact i’ve already got lists and pinterest boards about it. Re: Photograph- you shot this? This is superb. Was it a drone camera? Or where were you standing? I’ve not yet been to Machu Pichu. And it being the birthplace of some of my ancestral relatives, it’s definitely something I hope I’m able to do, someday soon, while I’m still able to physically enjoy such an endeavor. For now thanks for sharing a splendid view.

    • I did take it. I got there early in the morning, and the whole site was covered in fog, so I climbed all the way to the highest wall and watched the clouds lift. I have a whole series of photos. You must go!

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