If I Were Retired: Fiddler on a Slippery Rooftop

RetirementI didn’t mean to take most of December off from blogging. I really didn’t. But this year the end of the semester about did me in.  Somehow the combination of the end-of-term grading,  sewer pipe lining (don’t ask), last minute legal needs regarding my dad’s estate, and trying to manage a semblance of Christmas, meant some things had to be dropped. Blogging was one of them. And, in the end, it all worked out. My students’ grades went in on time. My sewer pipes are happy and I have a YouTube video to prove it. I did the holiday things that mattered most, even as the sole decoration for most of the season was a fake poinsettia in the bathroom (again, don’t ask).  As I write this we still have an 11+ hour cross-country drive through predicted sleet to manage, but I have faith–and four-wheel drive.

As I’ve thought about this crazy period, it is interesting to think about how many of the moments of sanity I grabbed had to do with creative endeavors. I found joy in finishing gifts of fairy doors and a few other minor creative projects. And even in the throes of grading, one of the things that best lifted my spirits was writing silly song lyrics.

I was knee deep in grading and started thinking about several recently-retired friends who’d been teasing me about their paper-free days. This set me wondering how I’d be spending December if I were retired. The musings led me to the song, “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof, and soon a new set of lyrics were taking shape. Over a few days I’d occasionally give myself a “creativity break” (which I readily admit I thought of as a “play break”) and stop working long enough to write another verse. The song lyrics are nothing exciting, but the process helped me survive a stressful period with my sense of humor intact. I know that creative endeavors, especially significant ones, require hard work over long periods of time, but it is also true that a playful attitude is an essential component of creativity–and for me, it makes a difference.

The experience made me think about the role creativity–and play–can play in our mental health, and what that means for children in schools where both are in short supply. I’m going to think about that again soon. In the meantime, I’m going back to celebrating the holidays with my family. And in case you’d like to join the silliness, here are my retirement musings. If you know the original song, it will help.

If I Were Retired:

Apologies to Jerry Brock and Sheldon Harnick

If I were retired,
Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
All day long I’d think of Christmas cheer.
If I were retired now. (Right?)
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a very very old,
Idle-and so so retired prof.

I’d put a great big tree with garlands by dozens,
Right in the middle of the room.
A fine big star on top with a great big bow.
There would be candles that glow each evening at dusk,
And lights we will remember to take down,
When New Years comes along to end the show.

I’d fill my house with treats like cookies and popcorn all
For the neighbor kids to eat.
Chomping just as noisily as they can.
With each loud “Yum” “swaqwk” “gulp” “erp”
Would land like a trumpet on the ear,
As if to say “Here lives a Christmas fan.”

If I were retired,
Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
I would not be grading papers—no!.
If I were a retired now. (Right!)
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
If I weren’t thinking about grades,
Or all the reasons papers are not here .

I would not hear the tales of Internet crashing right
When the due date rolled around.
Or dogs who ate the papers with Christmas pie. (Really?)
I’d miss the fifteen times that grandmother died

All in a single family
As I hoped for wisdom and I sighed.

If I retired no one would come to meet with me
No one would ask me to advise them,
Like Deborah the Wise.
“If you please, about that deadline…”
“Pardon me, I think I missed that…”
“And I really really need to do it now!”

And it won’t make one bit of difference if I answer yes or no.
When you’re retired, no one really cares. Ah….

If I retired, I’d have the time that I lack
To take all the trips that fill my dreams.
Or sit and read a book or write a song.
And I would talk and text and tweet with the people I love, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

If I were retired,
Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
If I were retired now.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle dum.

Now it’s time to start it all again
New semester looms, I know but then,.
Would it spoil my long retirement plan?

If I turned around and ran?

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