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Well, so much for the contemplative life of a creative aesthete.  The past month has spun me like a gyroscope as I continue to carve out a routine that allows me to balance fulfillment and personal space.  The major change of plans was my decision to continue freelancing at the gallery, which means I’ve been trekking into Santa Fe two days a week.  While I’m glad to retain my affiliation with the gallery and while the opportunity is something of a financial relief, it also means my schedule is much more constricted than I expected.  Add to that the carnival of moving, starting a new semester, juggling students, office hours, new friends, and my own research schedule, and the whole idea of contemplative semi-retirement is completely ridiculous.  Which is good.  Even though I’m back in my default whirlwind mode, it’s obvious to me that’s where I function most effectively.  As long as I have a routine (still very much a work in progress for this semester!) and a sense of purpose, I am at my most competent when busy rather than brainstorming new creative projects.  Maybe that’s a little disappointing – maybe I wish to be a little more right-brained.  But it also convinces me of the fallacy of the whole stereotypical American “retirement” dream for my own future.

As part of my new routine, I am resolved to write more often, ideally on a weekly basis.


My summer vacation last week to visit family in Minnesota was not only a chance to contemplate my upcoming lifestyle changes, but also rethink the whole idea of what leisure time means.  In my mind, happiness is a sense of fulfillment and personal meaning, not “leisure” in the traditional sense.  Lying around reading glossy magazines (or the equivalent) holds very little appeal to me.  In this sense, my synopsis of full time studenthood to friends and family as a trial run for retirement (while obviously tongue-in-cheek) began to strike me with a bit of discomfort.  Retirement has both romanticized and derogatory connotations.  Does it even exist outside its mythical constructs as part of the “American Dream?”

Along these lines, J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly recently wrote an article on the shifting definitions of retirement.  Does it mean Financial Independence and the freedom from reliance on a paycheck, or does it mean the ability to engage in Flow-driven activities based on personal proclivities and dreams? In the sense that we are all seeking happiness (and if indeed happiness is defined by a sense of personal fulfillment) then the commonly accepted definition of retirement as ceasing one’s working life at the age of 65 seems like a true recipe for depression, most likely related to the anecdotes we hear so often about depressed and self-destructive lottery winners.