For some strange reason, I have a lot less spare time these days than I did before I retired completely. In working days, I had an excuse of limited time to do things. This, in my head, justified bringing in someone to do something for me that, given spare time, I could do myself.
Now I have no excuse. Retirement equals unlimited time coupled with absolute freedom to organise that time. Machismo knows no fetter. Only wimps get someone else to do things for them.
In reality, there are still only twenty-four hours in a day. But Resident Cat wakes me up irrespective of day of the week, impervious to clocks going forward or back. I never had to get up this early to get to work in pre-cat days. So my waking day is actually longer than in the past. I have more time. My days are planned the day before. I have targets. Usually I meet them. Trouble is I’m not that good at planning tasks. Well, really at estimating how long they’ll take. So coffee breaks become coffee break. It’s worse if I’m outside in the garden. Half-way through pricking out seedlings I notice a weed growing somewhere. The pricking out becomes digging out as I progress around the garden, trowel in hand. OK, I’ll skip lunch to catch up with the task schedule.
I notice that aches and pains seem to start far sooner in any period of activity than in the past. The old body is getting even older. But my mind is still there. Mind over matter as they say. Co-Codamol is my friend; morphine an occasional visitor. I find that if I keep pushing the old body, the mind ignores the aches, with a soupçon of help. For long enough.
Then it dawns on me. My mind is the problem. There is so much I want to do. So many plants to plant, so many weeds to remove, deadheading, pruning, tidying. I’m happy doing things like that. My mind joins in the happiness. We slog away together. Indoors, decorating, cleaning and any amount of DIY occupy the rainy times. Don’t mention ironing, please!
But then I want to relax. And my mind says “I’m knackered! I’ve been fighting back the aches all day. Now I need a break.” So no easy time watching TV; reading is spasmodic. That I have a bookshelf next to the loo says it all. I rate books by how long they keep me sitting there, absorbed, risking piles. If there were a little graphic to represent piles, you’d give a book so many stars; I’d give it so many piles. The more the merrier.
But when my buttocks are supported by a proper seat, they let my brain know and it goes into relaxation mode. I nod off. This, I conclude, is the great dichotomy of age. I’m either physically active or asleep. I am simply not conscious of having any spare time. Because I’m not conscious. Period.
Which is, as it happens, why I don’t blog as often as I’d like as I usually sit down to wri……