"What Will You Do With All Your Time?"
"You've been a professional all your life," my friend's friend in California exclaimed. "How can you retire and do NOTHING?! What will you do with all your time? You'll go nuts!" she predicted knowingly.
(Why is it that Jewish women professionals always sound like know-it-alls? Is this some gene handed down from mother to daughter? Maybe its imprinted in childhood from the voice of the all-knowing Ima?)
I told her that I've worked since I was 15. That didn't include baby-sitting jobs I held earlier. My parents firmly believed that too much time on my hands would lead to trouble, so I was working full-time in the summers from 15 years old onward, and part-time during the school year, while doing advanced placement classes in a college-prep high school. I had three jobs at one point while going to college full-time. I worked through law school, and even though work-study only paid for 20 hours a week, it was gospel that to get hired one put in at least 35 hours a week, the difference being unpaid. Then I passed the bar exam and got to work seven days a week!
I've joked with friends that we became observant in order to get a day off.......
What am I going to do with my time? I'm going to LIVE!!
I'm learning Hebrew. I want to go back and brush up on French and German and I want to learn at least the rudimentary politenesses of Arabic.
I'm being a full-time mother. Its wonderful to be home in the afternoon when my son gets home and ask him about his day; its great to be able to take him shopping for clothes at 3 pm in the afternoon; its a treat to be able to go out for dinner with him at the Food Court because although the food is "mall food" I get to see him and stroll around and window shop with him, instead of rushing home to a quick dinner and homework for both of us.
I'm being kind to myself; instead of working full tilt and rushing around from store to store Wednesday, Thursday and Friday hunting for kosher food, and prepping what can be prepped ahead of time, and parsing my work day to get home on-time for Shabbat, we take it easy. We walk down to Bet Lechem Street for coffee at Kalo, and afterwards buy a ready-cooked kosher chicken at Ragu, then some fresh produce on the corner of Ester HaMalca, then pick up sweetrolls and challah at Rafi's in Talpiot, then wander home and meander through the Jerusalem Post....Erev Shabbat here is Israel's equivalent to "Saturday" in California.....
I comparison shop, albeit I need Yossi's and Ronit's and Tilda's help---I have the time to compare prices on floor tile at different shops and to hunt around for bargains on appliances.
I go to the gym. Daily. Being a full-time prosecutor with children who had full-time problems (I had step-children who came with their own baggage in need of sorting), somehow taking care of my own needs (exercise, new clothes, trips with the family) always seemed to come in last. Now I have a schedule which is open enough to accomodate everyone's needs.
I want to take a course in archeology and then I want to see every inch of Israel.
Once we're in the new apartment, I'd like to learn to sew. I love to quilt, but I haven't produced much since I have to do it by hand. A sewing machine and some quilting lessons would be perfect!
I would like to learn. Matan and Nishmat and Pardes are all near by, and I would like to take at least one course per semester from one of them, and become a bit more knowledgable than I am right now.
I want to volunteer somewhere where no one speaks English---I can make myself useful while improving my Hebrew.
The list goes on. However, the question was silly. What will I do with my time? Well, life is given to us to be lived, and I want to live it as fully as possible. Working 60 hours a week (minimum) and chaining myself to a desk until age and infirmity mandate retirement is not my idea of "living."
It's never a good idea to define one's self by one's work. Work is what you do, not who you are. I have here the grace to spend a bit more time on who I am instead of what I did, and I'm grateful for the chance.
Life, here I come!