Another New Chapter…

So, when I was first offered “Ill health retirement” I was shocked. I’d been told, when I asked about when my back was injured and did not seem to be improving, that it was nigh on impossible to get. “As long as you can hold a bloody pencil mate, they’ll use you.”


That, however, did not turn out to be the case. I was offered a “lower tier” pension. That means I’ll get it until I shuffle off this mortal coil. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Trust me when I say it is not. The amount I’ll get each year won’t even keep me in “beer and skittles.” But honestly, the amount that I do not know about the whole pension system and what I’ll get along with any benefits added in, would not fill a matchbox.

I am hoping to learn. Mind you, I was hoping to learn before I had to make up my mind to take the retirement. It just wasn’t to be.

So in about the shortest time span ever, I’ve changed direction with my life once again. I think that this has got to be a new “personal best” for me. Three years ago, I leave my wife of over 25 years and set the wheels in motion for the divorce. Then last year I got injured at work and lost almost six months off of work and just started back when I had the heart attack.

Two surgeries later, I’m out of the hospital after four days with the doctors astonished at how quickly I’d recovered. Then just over four months goes by and I’m invalided out of Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Three years with a matching number of events, two of which were life changing.

Karma is sort of kicking my ass. I just don’t know if it’s because of something I’ve done in this life or the last. I’ll have to see if I can get in touch with Shirley MacLaine; she’s an expert in that sort of thing.

But despite the Keystone Kops pace of my life’s recent changes, I am at peace. Not all the time. I came close to having a spectacular blow-out the other day caused by too many questions and unknowns that were starting to panic the crap out of me. One thing that has helped me to keep a more or less even keel through all of this is my blogging.

I stopped by work for the last time today and said goodbye to the few friends who were on. One of them asked if I’d still be doing my blogging. Oh yes, I replied it was keeping me sane and even though it wasn’t paying any bills, I was pleased with the amount I was writing and the fact that I was pretty much doing it daily. I even went so far as offering the opinion that it might just lead to employment someday.

We all had a chuckle at that and I made my excuses and left. The one constant thing in my life right now is my writing. I started doing short stories again, although really they are more like flash fiction and hopefully I’ll accrue enough of those plus a few longer stories to fill a collection. Who knows?

It is amazing how satisfying it is to be creative again. I know, a couple of short stories do not a creative world make, but, most of my writing is in a sense creative. Even when spouting my opinion about things I’ve seen or read or watched, I do have to have a touch of creativity there. But like my slow recovery to fuller health, I am getting better at it (the writing) the more I do it. *At least I think I am and if you think otherwise, please keep it to yourself.*

The two short stories (flash fiction) almost wrote themselves. They actually had to wait on my uncoordinated fingers to type the words out for each one. The first one started as a sentence that just randomly popped into my head three weeks earlier. Two years ago, it would have been shoved to the back of my head for instant flushing. I had lost the overwhelming urge to take an idea, or a sentence, and run with it. See where it headed or died.

When I turned my back on the acting world I turned my back on creativity. I did not think I could do that anymore. But now that I’ve found that I have not lost the “knack” and I can rescue that little niggle in the back of my head. My new catchphrase in this new chapter of my life will be creativity.

In fact if I was writing the story, which in a sense I am, I’d title this chapter I Knew I Could.


Author: Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

11 thoughts on “Another New Chapter…”

  1. “I am getting better at it (the writing) the more I do it. *At least I think I am and if you think otherwise, please keep it to yourself.*” πŸ˜‰ Happy New Year, sir Mike! hope 2013 will be hale, hearty and money-generating, ahaha. kind regards… πŸ™‚ ~ San

  2. It could be karma … or maybe you pissed off a malevolent deity who is screwing with you. I think it’s a malevolent deity, maybe one of the Queens of Fae.

    You would be surprised at how many people have had their lives turned into train wrecks and for some of us, more than once.

    From a $$ point of view, if you aren’t working anymore, it never gets and you are never going to have a spare penny again. But … there’s good news too. You have already discovered it: freedom.

    I can write what I want when I want. 35 years of commercial writing and finallly I get to have some fun doing what I love and do best. I’m very happy about that.

    That we are permanently insolvent? Yeah, bummer … but it turns out that retirement, however you get there is like that for most people. Unless you have a lot of money … as in kind of rich … or were a whole lot better at handling your finances than anyone I know has been … or you got lucky and had one of those disability policies that takes care of you really well … retirement means penny-pinching.

    Cancel your world cruise; that’s just not going to happen. But you can make your own hours, get up late, stay up late, watch movies and reruns of terrible old TV shows, wear PJs all day if you want. Take up gourmet cooking, learn to paint, try your hand at photography. Become an expert on something weird and obscure. And write your hear out.

    It’s always hard making ends meet on a fixed income. It always has been and those who’ve never done don’t really get it — there’s huge difference between “haven’t gotten a raise” and “will NEVER get a raise, ever.”

    As for no mortgage? I wish. We, like you, had our careers end rather abruptly: me due to ill health. Garry because the industry changed … probably the two most common reasons for “early retirement.”

    Be glad we have computers. We remain part of the world. Without high speed internet, our lives would be quite different and not in a good way.

    Welcome to my world. It’s imperfect, but it’s not entirely bad. You may grow to enjoy it.

    P.S. Check to see if you are owed any Social Security from the U.S. You may be entitled to something.

    1. Thanks for that. Yeah I definitely will have something due from SS as when I left the USAF my contributions were all paid up, I still get the occasional letter from them saying, “your social security pay out [sic} would be this…” I’m lucky that I’m over here and that the NHS will look after my health. And yeah you are so right, Thank God (or who ever) for computers. Still mainlined into the pulse of the world…so to speak. I feel a bit more optimistic. An old work colleague messaged me last night with news of a possible part-time job where I live, very nice of him. Cheers mate!! πŸ˜€

  3. Good luck in your new life and much success with your writing. It is worth it. I hope your ailments soon go and life will be good. Happy New Year and thanks for visiting my blog. Appreciated.

    1. Hey thanks for stopping in and having a look. And for the kind words of encouragement. I’d also like to thank you for the pingback! Cheers mate and may your new year be happy as well! πŸ˜€

  4. I don’t think it’s karma. We all go through rough patches; some just hide it better than others. I’ve found, like you, that blogging has been a great way to sort out the feelings in my life. My big rough patch was when I lost my job of 7 years in 2011 and realized I hadn’t prepared for such a thing. It has forced me to take new stock of my life, and the blogging has been surprisingly helpful in that process. It’s nice to have a conduit for our ponderings.

    1. Well said. I’m in the exact same situation as you were in 2011. In my head my years were going to be doing the prison officer shtick till I retired properly. This early stuff caught me completely unprepared! Thanks for sharing that mate! πŸ˜€