I am sure just about everybody, particularly on a Monday morning or when over-tired, hung-over or ill, thinks that it would be great to retire early and not have to go to work. I used to think that quite a lot. But life is funny sometimes and the old maxims be careful what you wish for and the grass is greener on the other side really do hold some truth.
Now that I am no longer able to work, I miss it terribly. I don't miss the work but I miss going to work. I miss the people I used to work with and I guess I miss the routine of it. I also miss the sense of satisfaction of being gainfully employed, feeling like I was earning my way through life. And I miss the pay packet too.
Growing up, at least in the first half of high school, I wanted to be a journalist. I liked to write, but not fiction; I preferred to write about real events and real issues. Sometime in the later half of high school I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I don't exactly remember when I decided this, or what brought me to that decision, but I think it came from a couple of different needs.
Firstly, I knew I couldn't do anything particularly physical and that I would have to earn my living using my brain. Secondly, I wanted to join profession that I felt would give me a reasonable degree of status within society. This was to compensate for my disability, for being a wheelchair, for looking a little different, as I often felt I had to prove to the outside world that although my body was broken, my brain still worked and it worked pretty well. Thirdly, I have a genuine interest in the law and legal issues and I was curious about the framework of our democracy, our system of justice and the interplay between individuals, society as a whole or in part and government and legal institutions.
After a few years working as a solicitor, I joined the government primarily for lifestyle reasons. I think a law degree is a great thing to have, career-wise, as it opens up so many opportunities but the actual practice of law is a very boring and rather nasty business. I met some fine people from my time in the law, many of them I am still in contact with to this day, but I also came across some truly vile and grubby individuals; mostly in the higher ranks within law firms.
There are many people who leave law school and join a law firm but after a few years jump ship to try their hand at something different. My story is nowhere near unique.
Working for the government can be frustrating, particularly if you are in an area that comes in regular contact with either the general public or the responsible minister's office or both. My own view is that if the politicians and their staff could spend less time concentrating on spin and less time reacting to the 24-hour news cycle, public administration would be in far better shape.
Unlike the management of most law firms, which in my amateur opinion contains a higher than average proportion of people with sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies, those in management roles in government tend to be fearful little souls caught up with trying to maintain their own little fiefdoms whilst trying ever so hard to ensure they have plausible deniability for any act or omission queried by their political masters or their lackeys (or as I call them, morons and their mascots). Obviously, I am speaking generally here and I have worked for some superb people in government. Again, I remain in contact with many of them.
I am disappointed that my career was cut short when my disability worsened. Being medically retired was not the way I wanted to finish up. In time I would like to fill this hole, I would like to find a way to reclaim that sense of self worth I had when I was working. It is something I continue to think about and I remain hopeful that my condition is now plateauing and with a greater degree of stability in my life I may be able to start thinking with greater specificity about what I would like to achieve in this next stage of my life.
Perhaps I might write a book, although I am not sure what it is that I could write about given I'm not terribly creative or possessive of a writing style suited to producing fiction. For the time being, I will use this blog as my outlet and just see what happens.