November 21st, 2019

turtle

Discoveries in retirement, an ongoing adventure

I have always been a night owl. From adolescence onward, I would stay up late into the night, usually reading. When we had children at home, I found that I couldn’t really get certain things done, couldn’t really relax either, until the whole house was quiet. I was always the last to bed. This meant that I shorted myself on sleep for years. Instead of getting more sleep, I ate. Up to a certain point, you can trade sleep for food, since the energy from the calories will keep you going.

My schedule was over-busy, my calendar stacked with must-dos. Every few days, I would write out my to-do list afresh, in at least six or eight columns, as I worked across multiple goal areas headed Personal, Office, Venturers, Whatever class I was teaching, People to see, Wilderstead, etc. When the last meeting of the evening (and at least half my days had meetings in the evening) was finished, I would wait for the house to get quiet. And then I could finally relax, clear my brain, amuse myself, even organize the next day. And then it would all start up again.

I wondered if, when I retired, I would get my nights and days mixed up. Without anything in particular to get up for, would I simply stay up all night, then sleep till the afternoon?

The actual result has surprised me. Without the stressors of my schedule (imposed by both self and others), I find that I go to bed earlier. I don’t have to stay up in order to get “me” time. And I like to get up early, even in the dark. I get more sleep, and better sleep, than I did throughout my working years. If I can’t sleep at night, I just get up for a while, or change from bed to chair. I give myself permission to nap during the day when I feel like it – and having done so, I find that I don’t always need to. Unlike my last several working years, I don’t feel tired all the time now. And when I do feel tired, my tiredness is more a function of age than of exhaustion. Part of aging for me means I feel more the effects of dwindling daylight, which didn’t use to bother me. I was really starting to shut down in mid-September, but I started some new medicine that has helped tremendously. All in all, then, I feel pretty good.

And I am finding new joy in greeting the dawn from the right end (getting up rather than going to bed).
xmas cats

Caroling, caroling, now we go

Among the many projects I have begun at one time or another and soon abandoned is a work on worship planning. I wrote these thoughts on music for Advent and Christmastide about eight years ago.


Music

No season in the Church calendar provides us with so much music as does the Incarnation Cycle (Advent and Christmastide). Christmas is one of the principal festivals of the Church (along with Easter and Pentecost), and in popular culture is seen as the most important holiday in the year, regardless of one’s religious affiliation.

Even after we have winnowed out the obviously secular (Deck the Halls, Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland) and the silly (Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree), there is still a huge amount of music that we sing at no other time in the year. Choosing the right music while still satisfying the demand of the faithful – who often feel it “just isn’t Christmas” if we don’t sing [take your pick] – can be a strain.

Then there is the constant argument between those who feel we shouldn’t sing Christmas songs until we get to Christmas itself. They want a distinct Advent season with songs appropriate to Advent. They have a point. The Church doesn’t start celebrating Christmas until Christmas Eve, but this runs against popular culture, which goes crazy on Christmas, starting with Thanksgiving, and then drops the whole thing on December 26. On top of this, you only have one or two Sundays (plus a special service or two) to sing Christmas songs, while there are four Sundays in Advent in which everyone around us is singing and playing Christmas music to the point of surfeit. It’s a no-win proposition.