1 EAGLETON NOTES: What Are You Doing These Days?

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Friday, 17 January 2020

What Are You Doing These Days?

I was recently at the official opening of the Island's Grinneas nan Eilean art exhibition. Thirty years or more ago I used to enter work in it. Now I just go and enjoy the work of other people. 

Whilst I was chatting to the artists, the curious, worthies and fellow hangers-on someone asked me "What are you doing these days?" To which I responded "I'm retired." To which the response was that she knew that but what did I do with my time? She informed me that she would be retiring in a few weeks and would be continuing her work with this charity and that charity etc etc. By the time she had finished I was quite exhausted. She then, to rub salt into the wound I'm sure she didn't realise she had created, she pressed me to answer her question. 

Then someone came and rescued me.

Given that I'm usually up early and go to bed late and watch relatively little television or films and don't read anywhere near as much as I used to I have started to wonder what on earth I do do. The answer is a great deal of nothing. However I drive about 15,000 miles a year (meaning I'm not at home quite a lot), drink a lot of coffee with friends, have lots of visitors, cook, write a lot and my house is quite tidy and clean and I get out and walk in the woods as frequently as I can and I play bowls year round. I also have some pretty harmless hobbies and a family.

I suppose it says something about me that I don't do anything of any importance whatsoever any more. Please tell me I'm not alone.

PS It's winter and I forgot that my garden takes up a great deal of my time the rest of the year.

46 comments:

  1. You are definitely not alone! As a stay-at-home-mum I was forever being asked what did I do all day. Well, nothing really. It changed every day - cooking, cleaning, preserving, sewing, gardening, school activities, office work for my husband. Nothing that one could say was an occupation.
    Now I am also "retired" it is still the same. I am still busy, although maybe the Nothings that I do are now a bit different. Perhaps our present occupations could be described as "living a life of idle pleasure"? That would make a few people turn green with envy :))

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    1. Margaret, people seem to forget that in the past being a 'housewife' involved a helluvalot of work. It still does although the content will have changed since my youth because my Mum's generation didn't have all the modern conveniences that we had when we brought up our children. I love your "living a life of idle pleasure". I shall definitely use that next time anyone asks me. What the betting I'm not asked again?

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  2. Ah yes. The question that seems designed to embarrass those of us enjoying a relatively idle retirement after many decades of hard slog in the workplace.
    Mind you, I was never important anyway (Mrs Nobody) so why should retirement be any different?
    Enjoy yourself, whatever you feel like doing. You have earned it!

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    1. JayCee, there is no correlation between importance and work. And what is 'importance'. I once rang an office and asked to speak to Mr X (the boss). The person who answered said "I'm sorry there is no one here at the moment I'm just the office girl." I asked her never to include the word 'only' ever again. The office could happily function without everyone else there [at a meeting as it happens] but with the office junior my experience is that most offices fall apart.

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  3. I am with you Graham. As both above readers indicated - busy pre-retirement but apparently, like you and I, content now to do what I call "piddling around." The thing that I love is not having to do anything at all. My life is full enough for me. It's luxurious to not have to be awake at the crack of dawn for a business meeting or a job. Volunteering doesn't work for me because it's similar to having a job without the salary but still having to put up with some negatives from the powers that be. I can enjoy my breakfast whilst reading all the news, e-mails, and my favorite bloggers. Then there's the care of my dog and cat. Reading, music, cooking, writing...researching and, best of all, weather permitting, gardening. Life is full and everything seems to take me a bit longer so I'm content with my lifestyle. As long as my body or mind doesn't take a turn for the worse, it's a very nice way of life. I adore that I do not have to answer to anyone. More power to you with doing what you obviously are content with.

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    1. Thank you, Regina M. It's a while since I heard 'piddling around'. I used to say to people 'stop piddling around and get the job done' or 'stop piddling around and get to the point'. Now I never have the opportunity to say that - except, I suppose, to myself. I, too, love that I have to answer to no one. We both seem to have found contentment anyway.

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  4. She was trying to look important. Pffft.

    You don't need to do a lot. Heaven knows you deserve some calm and peace.

    I work twenty hours a week, drink coffee with my kids, fawn over the dogs and barely get through the shopping , cooking and tidying. I don't even garden

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    1. Kylie, it didn't occur to me that she was trying to look important. Now that you've mentioned it though.......

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  5. You are a very active senior and that's the only way to be.

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    1. Red, that makes two of us and at least we have the good fortune to be happy.

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  6. You sound like every retired person I know (including myself). There aren't enough hours in the day to cope with all the 'nothing' we do.

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    1. Absolutely, Cro. All day whilst doing 'nothing' I kept wondering whether I'd manage to get the next bit of 'nothing' done before it got dark/before dinner/before etc etc. Now I'm just wondering if I'll get to make that batch of soup before I sit down in front of the News at Ten.

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  7. I find that keeping keeping going is a full time job.

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    1. Adrian, the difference is that you actually do 'useful stuff'.

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  8. Oh frabjous day, the Blogger comment elves seem to be accepting me again . . . Hello :)

    Sounds to me like that poor lady doesn’t have significant things in her home/personal life and is “keeping busy” either as a distraction or because she has nothing important to balance her. Speaking as someone with no family, I reckon you have the important things nailed - you spend time with your loved ones. What could be more precious?

    Also retired and wondering how the heck I can squeeze more hours out of the day without compromising sleep (which I refuse to do!). I know I have far too many hobbies and interests than there are days of the week to fit them all in.

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    1. Jayne, I suspect that looking after Bag End, is pretty much an occupation in itself. I think when we retire we become much more aware of the amount of time left and the amount of 'stuff' we want to do in it. I compromised sleep (I made do with a maximum of 5½ hours most of my working life) once upon a time. Now unless I have to be up for something in particular (it's 5.30 if I'm getting the morning ferry) I get up when I please: usually before 7 in the summer and after 7 in the winter. There will never be enough time. The sad thing is that there are many (usually older) folk who have nothing and no one to fill their time. I find that devastatingly sad.

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    2. You’re absolutely right Graham, Bag End would be a full-time job if I let it. I have no intention of doing that - far too many other hobbies.

      I agree with you about folk who are completely alone, it seems to be an epidemic in our current society.

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    3. Jayne, this has reminded me that I have been approached a number of times to be a Be-friender but it involves regular commitment and my lifestyle, present commitments and time away from the Island makes that difficult. I do feel a bit guilty though.

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  9. I find this quite difficult to answer because I have not coped that well with retirement althougn, as you will know from my blog, I keep busy. Like Regina M above, volunteering also does not work for me, same reason. The thing I most enjoy is that my time is completely my own. I am getting there but when people talk to me about retirement and how they can't wait, although I say nothing because they will always disagree and think they know best, I think to myself, it brings a different set of problems. Perhaps for me it was worse because of unforeseen things that also happened in my life at the same time, but not going out to work is a job in itself, and has to be worked at to make it fulfilling, nothing comes to you.

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    1. Going back to your post and people asking "what are you doing these days?" I don't think I have every been asked.

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    2. Firstly, Rachel, I don't recall being asked it in 'that way' before either. It's usually something mush less 'formal'. In some ways it was the parameters that the questioner had set before she asked the question. When I retired from public service I still had my own business. When I sold that I went to New Zealand for 6 months a year for 10 years. I still haven't scratched the surface of the projects I want to finish. I've been very fortunate. As friends drop off this mortal coil and as travel gets more difficult (I can't travel abroad now because I can't get insurance and I'm not prepared to travel without it given my medical circumstances) I do sometimes have twinges about the future.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. As long as you are doing what you wish to do with your time...doing what makes you feel happy, relaxed, calm, and whatever else...that is what matters. How you spend your time is no one else's business but your own. Spend it as you will...as you want to.

      Next time you run into her...tell her to mind her own....(you-know-what)...business! :)

      How I spend my time has nothing to do with anyone else...and if some choose to judge me for being me...that's their choice...their burden to carry...and their wasting of their own time. Silly twits! ;)

      Enjoy your days, Graham...and nights...your way! :)

      PS...I deleted my original response because I'd made a typo in it.

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    2. As you say, Lee, if one is happy (and I am fortunate so to be) then wotthehellarchiewotthehell.

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  11. You're certainly not alone. The "what are you doing these days" (together with "how are you doing these days") has been my pet peeve question ever since my early retirement 16 years ago. It still often makes me try to avoid contexts where I know I'm likely to run into too many people demanding answers or giving peppy suggestions. This year I may be facing new challenges as I turn 65 in August;' which in my case means retiring from 'disability' to 'old age' pension. Unlike retiring from a job, this won't give me any more free time. How much it will change questions people tend to ask, remains to be seen! ... In my own eyes, I've come to see my main job as being personal assistant to myself. I guess I shall have to be content as long as I can keep that position :)

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    1. Monica, it seems to me that you have created a world with which you are reasonably content. Whether by necessity or choice you seem to have made the best of the cards dealt to you. I have always admired you enormously for that.

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    2. Graham, half the time I don't even know what the game is! The admiration goes both ways, though. You might consider adding "influencer" to your list of titles. That should work almost as well as bureaucrat! ;)

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    3. Monica, I rather like the idea of being an 'influencer' although I rather think people might look at me even more strangely than when I say 'bureaucrat'.

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  12. You should have told that woman that you maintain an internationally admired blog attracting people from all over the world - even Yorkshire!

    At social gatherings in the past people would often be quick to ask, "What do you do?" They were trying to find out what I did for a living, trying to pigeonhole me. If I was in the mood, I would sometimes say, "I write poetry and go walking in the countryside. Sometimes I just sit and look up at the stars." Why should we be defined by what we "do"? It's perfectly okay to do nothing - to just sit and meditate, to while away the hours, to dream, to remember. I am sure that any Buddhists out there would agree wholeheartedly with this outlook.

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    1. YP, like you, I resented being pigeonholed. When was gainfully employed I would often answer the question with "I'm a bureaucrat." That invariably shut people up. When I retired and had my own business if a banker asked me I said that I was a company director but if anyone else asked me I'd say that I was a potter. Either or both were technically correct but neither explained what I did. I have done the occasional post I think on the sweet art of doing nothing or dolce far niente.

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  13. AAACK! Never feel obligated to respond to a request which is only a veiled opening for another to blab on ad nauseum about their important life. Being retired is the BOMB! When I am asked what I "do," I just say "Whatever I want." and trip happily away. Explain nothing to no one! Karla from Illinois

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    1. Karla from Illinois, you have also hit the nail on the head I think. I wish I had had the quick wit to give your response. I'll know better next time.

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  14. You are not alone.
    I've thought many times when asked what I "do," to answer, "I stay alive." It has a sort of back at you sense of power.

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    1. Maywyn, I think I might add your suggestion into some of the others and come up with 'the perfect response' for next time.

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  15. I'm sure it says more about the person who feels the need to ask this type of question. I'm glad you were rescued :)

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    1. It probably does, Jules and, now that I think about the person (whom I've been acquainted with for decades) I'm sure you are correct. Thank you for your gladness.

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  16. What do you do? "I an appreciator of LIFE." There, that is your answer! :-)

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    1. Kay, I shall add that to my future repertoire of responses.

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  17. I'm not retired yet, still got a long way to go until that happens so I guess I have no idea what it's like.

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    1. Amy (or do you prefer Aimz now?) I hope that you find out one day.

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  18. Same as Aimz, my retirement is still a long way off and so I can only do my best to enjoy my current life while at the same time looking forward to the time when I won't HAVE to do something specific and be at specific places at specific times anymore - hoping I will still be relatively healthy then, and with the man I love.

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    1. Meike, I'm sure that you will always make the most of what you have. After all you've been through (even since you started this blog and because of why you started the blog) you have always striven to be positive. May that positivity be well rewarded.

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  19. The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who are most concerned with living and those who are most concerned with doing. Sometimes living and doing can both happen at the same time, but not always. When I retire, there'll be still lots to do and the most important will be to enjoy my life.

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    1. Lynn what you say resonates with me. I think, in my case, I would say that 'living' was when I was touring New Zealand playing championship level croquet and all that went with that. Friends and family interaction are living too. A lot of today will be spent doing housework and cooking for friends coming for dinner tonight. Odd that it may seem (there is a pile of ironing included) I will actually enjoy the whole day.

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  20. Looks like you have a couple of spam comments.
    As long as you are happy piddling around is the main thing. We have a joke: ''What are you doing today? "
    " Nothing!"
    "But you did that yesterday."
    "Yes but I haven't quite finished yet."

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    1. Yes, Diane, spam comments when one is asleep or off-line is one of the irritations of not moderating comments. On the other hand not moderating comments allows a flow of 'conversation' in comments which I enjoy.

      Having said that I absolutely LOVE your joke. I shall definitely be using that. Thank you.

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