What Does Retirement Mean?

That was what a former student of mine asked me the other day. Actually, she listed a number of definitions from the dictionary, and in her usual brash style, asked what it was that I didn’t understand about the definitions.

I have to admit that I have failed again in my second attempt at retirement. The first time that I retired – 10 years ago – it was just too early and my plan for a business here in Bali didn’t work out; I learned the valuable lesson that I’m not a businessman, better to stick with teaching since I’m fairly good at that. And this time?

Well, I actually planned for this one, and except for the little matter of the world financial crisis, I was ready. I could stay retired and hope for the best, but I hate the idea of leaving the kids and my wife with no money if I happen to die in the next few years. So I was toying with the idea of going back to work. It just happened that I received a call, right at that time, asking if I was interested in coming back to my old job for seven months until a replacement for me arrived. It was one of those serendipitous things – returning to work is good for the school and good for me as well. It gives them a known quantity, and it gives me a quick infusion of hard cash to make up for some of the losses in the stock market.

This retirement has been excellent, although I actually work almost more than I did when I was working. That is I write about six hours a day. I managed to finish the eBook on Bali, am halfway done with the international schools book, and have a start on the book on Islam that I want to do after the international schools book is finished. I’ve spent a lot of time snorkeling; I’ve gotten the kids on track with their new schools; my wife and I have made extensive repairs to the houses here (badly needed after five years of being empty); I went through the visa process so that I know I can do it again in another seven months; and I’ve had a lot of time to read and reflect.

rebecca and ria on Lebaran

rebecca and ria on Lebaran

I know now that I can handle retirement – often problematic for workaholics like me. In fact, I’ve only begun to do the things that I wanted to do when I was planning my retirement. I still have a lot lined up for the next time.

So, here I am working on getting ready mentally for a move back to Sumbawa for seven months. I’m not fond of the idea of leaving the family; I’m really going to miss being here with the kids and my wife everyday without the distraction of work, but I can rationalize this decision to temporarily return to work, by looking at it as just 25 weeks of work that will give us a little breathing room economically. Then back here in June again to start retirement all over.


~ by drbrucepk on October 26, 2008.

2 Responses to “What Does Retirement Mean?”

  1. good luck with your unretirement. Could I dare ask ( a secondary level teacher of over 34 years, about a half overseas) what it is like teaching at that school in Sumbawa?? Or have you already told us somewhere and I have missed it?


  2. Hi John,

    Teaching over in Sumbawa is pretty much the same as teaching in the States except that the class sizes are smaller and schools that are predominately Australian tend not to use a lot of textbooks.

    Anyway, I’m back at work for the time and will begin retirement again in another five months.


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