Normalizing Routines and a Feeling of Freedom

Yesterday I had the first real rush of the freedom of retirement. My wife and I were driving along Jalan Dewi Sartika right around noon on our way to the small shop where we buy beef bacon and cheese. The light was perfect high noon brightness, and we could feel a cooling breeze coming in off the Bali Sea. I was suddenly seized with the realization that this was part of a routine that I was developing – I caught the process squarely in my consciousness and it felt incredibly liberating; the act of creating a vision of freedom from out of a lifetime of routines of from the world of work.

Earlier in the morning, I was woken from a light sleep by a phone call from my old boss. The first thing that he asked me was if I was on my second whiskey already – a joke, to be sure, but one that, as I’ve written before, is the reality of retirement in the tropics for far too many expats. Left with no routines, no place to go, no responsibilities, nothing to look forward to other than getting up and getting through each day, it is easy to fall in to the routine of having a drink or two before lunch, a drink or two at lunch, a few sundowners, and then a few nightcaps.

It really is amazing to see how easy it is to fall prey to lethargy. While we (that is expats and wannabees expats) say that we want to move to the tropics for the slower rhythms of life, the fact is that getting adjusted to those rhythms is quite difficult. The temporal destination of besok (tomorrow) or nanti (later) easily becomes our home and the words part of our routinized vocabulary.

I realized this on an intellectual level when I began preparing for my retirement last year, and my response was to create a list of goals (which I’ve written about here before) with which I could create some routines to build an infrastructure to tropical life that would serve as the road on which I would travel without thinking.

This sense of freedom that I am just beginning to feel is something that can be quite frightening at times. The best way that I can describe the feeling is to compare it to the exhilaration of being out in the sea, lazily swimming through the coral watching the fish move about from place to place in search of food, when suddenly the black water appears and you search for the bottom, the foundation of the ocean, an anchor for your sense of orientation, and it’s not there. You realize then the incredible vastness of the sea and the freedom that lies there. It always gives me the shivers even after 19 years of experiencing this. Freedom is a state that takes some work getting used to.


~ by drbrucepk on July 11, 2008.

One Response to “Normalizing Routines and a Feeling of Freedom”

  1. […] – bookmarked by 5 members originally found by digitallatina on 2008-08-30 Normalizing Routines and a Feeling of Freedom – […]

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