‘Early Retirement’ and Heart’s Desire ~ a Couple of Weeks On

I’ve been pretty overwhelmed by the waves of wise, sincere, encouraging and heartfelt responses that I’ve received to my recent  posts here and here about deciding to take ‘early retirement’ in the face of not being able to secure suitable employment over the last four years or so.

There has been so much food for thought in these responses and I’ve been amazed at the extent to which they have been echoing in my mind and seeking to be processed.

I wrote about knocking on doors and even building new ones to knock on, but then someone mentioned ‘avenues’ and that opened up all sorts of new space.  You’d find it hard to believe how many avenues I’ve glimpsed over the last few weeks, from tiny driveways up to ordinary houses to paths in the woods and even pathless woods! There are just so many different angles on this …..

And then, another piece of advice was to Go with what your heart desires most, Jean, and don’t look back. 

This has played and played on my mind, especially as I decided to do a major clean-out of my ‘study’ and kept coming on former ‘work’ stuff from both social research and teaching ~ which meant more to me than I can even begin to describe.

It may seem strange but the most stubborn single sheet of paper that refused to be shredded was this one which I revised and revised and used as a working  Hand-Out with my Open University students ahead of their exams for each of the ten years I had them.


Its impact reminds me so much of the immortal words of  Seamus Heaney in Postscript:

And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

It also makes me think of how ‘early retirement’ is very much like an examination.

Yes, Make sure that you answer the question asked.

Now the shredder is purring so I’d best go and give it the Hand-Out!







Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

10 thoughts on “‘Early Retirement’ and Heart’s Desire ~ a Couple of Weeks On”

  1. Ah, the days of the typewriter – I remember them! And very good advice but of no use at all if you hadn’t actually done the work 🙂
    My father used to tell a story of his schooldays in Dunmanway, Cork. The class were presented with a test paper. Ten minutes later one boy stood up, announced ‘My education is complete.’, and walked out never to be seen at school again.

    1. Hi Roy, your story reminds me of a nun who used to say to us: ‘Just say ABC if you don’t know the answer, rather than standing there with your mouth shut.’ When we were in 6th year (secondary school) one of the girls finally got courage and said: ‘ABC,’ when hit with some impossible question. There was murder!!!

  2. My partner, Bernadette, was one of those OU students and like you will, she has overcome so many obstacles that stand in the way of aspiration. ’tis but a question of time Jean, and to productively fill those moments that are strewn extravagantly in your path. Good luck with your endeavours.

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