Learning, Working, Resting

Bob Dylan famously proclaimed to the world that “he not busy being born is busy dying,” thereby dividing life into two segments: the period when we consistently make the most of our life and move forward, after which we merely exist and begin marching towards our grave.

But now that I’m in my sixties, and thus entering the last third of my existence, I’ve been thinking a lot about our human lives and how we choose to portion them out. For a goodly number of Americans (at least those in the middle class or higher), I’d say our lives can be more accurately divided into thirds, which I’ll call Learning/Working/Resting.

From birth to around age thirty, we’re “growing up.” During this time, we actively absorb all that’s around us. We observe the world and how others act. We go to school and are taught facts and history, and learn (hopefully) how to think—how to process and analyze the information we acquire.


We may become an apprentice of some sort during this first third of our existence, acquiring a skill by actively engaging in a vocation and learning from others who have more experience than we.

Then, during the middle period of our life, from around thirty to our sixties, we work. We earn money, make a home, raise a family, engage in art or industry, or construct buildings.


And then, finally, we rest. Ahhhhh…. For some, that means golfing and fishing on weekdays, rather than just Saturday and Sunday. For others, buying an RV and setting off to see America. Or perhaps we spend our days reading novels or streaming Netflix. Or hanging out with our grandkids, dogs, and cats. Or going to the beach.


My life was all set to follow this pattern. I studied hard and went to law school (learning), after which I got a job as research attorney at a civil law firm (working). And then I retired, at which point it would have made sense to simply “have fun” (i.e., rest).

But I couldn’t. I realized I needed something more. So I tried my hand at penning a mystery novel.


And lo and behold, it got picked up by a publisher who wanted more of them. So here I am, having just finished writing my fifth Sally Solari mystery, and I can tell you the past years have not been full of “rest.”

But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Rest can wait.

Readers: What about you? Has your life followed this pattern? Do you envision resting in your retirement, or are you driven to keep going, even in your old age?

21 thoughts on “Learning, Working, Resting

  1. I think even when you’re in the “resting” stage of life you need to have something to keep your mind active. I gather writing mysteries is that for you, Leslie. Sounds like the perfect retirement plan to me!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Great post. I didn’t quite follow the pattern. There was an extended “play” period that overlapped “learn” and “work.” So when I finally got serious, I was behind the 8-ball and then there were some other events so I’ll be working until I’m 70 at least. On the other hand, for the last couple of decades, that usually means a 30 hour week. Tra la.

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  3. I did the same thing as you, Leslie, although my Natalie McMasters series wasn’t picked up by a mainstream publisher. I can’t say I’m surprised because I broke all the rules, but that’s just who I am (and so is Natalie!). So I self-published when I was 66, and am now busy with the fourth volume in the series, tentatively titled Spiders! And I even did achieve my dream of being traditionally published, with my Sherlock Holmes pastiches in the MX Book of new Sherlock Holmes stories. Now I wish I had devoted the “working” phase of my life to my fiction instead of science.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. What?!! Writing isn’t a super-relaxing “rest time”?? Great post, Leslie. I love the pic of you happily reading the book of poisons. I did a terrible job in my life with the pie chart, and found myself scrambling to catch up. But I’ve firmly decided on the perfect dessert: mystery writing!!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I started working at 22. I think the idea of learning until 30 is only for those who go to graduate school of some kind. Otherwise, I agree with your assessment.

    However, I’m 44 and I’m so ready for resting. Stupid work is getting in the way of all my reading!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Sounds nice. If only I had the money for both of those resting quarters. I’d be due to start one this year if it were the case.


  6. Yay to finishing Book 5! (Recently turned in revisions on my 5th book, although it’s first in a new series.) My pie chart is off, too. I think I’m a slow learner. I’m definitely a late bloomer! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Beyond Paul Simon’s lyric of “a man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest” – you started with my favorite quote! I love that!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Love this, Leslie! And when I get all stressed out about the work, I remind myself that nobody is sitting by their mailbox desperate to receive their copy of my book. I mean, I *wish* that was true, but I’m not delusional ….

    Liked by 1 person

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