The Great Works offer some advice.
"To hold and fill a cup to overflowing
Is not as good as to stop in time.
Temper a sword to its hardest and it is easily broken;
Amass the greatest treasure and it is easily stolen;
Claim credit and honour and you easily fall;
When the work is done,
and one's name is becoming distinguished,
to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven."
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9
"Man, who is born of woman,
Is short-lived and full of turmoil.
Like a flower he comes forth and withers.
He also flees like a shadow and does not remain."
"Amid a place of stone
Be secret, and exult
Because, of all things known
That is most difficult."
W.B. Yeats Responsibilities and Other Poems, 1916
A personal note: Today I retire.
This was a great gig for many, many years. It's been challenging and fulfilling.
I've been extremely fortunate to spend my time with bright, clever, engaging people who taught me so much, and I am grateful to them.
Increasingly, my little interior voice is telling me it's time to go. And you've got to listen to that quiet tiny voice.
Also, there's the Mayan 2012 end-of-the-world prophecy, and it would suck to not get at least a few months of retirement in before the denouement.
Just yesterday I read about Till Eulenspiegel, a German wit circa 1300. His métier was to find amusement by using alternative or literal interpretations of commonly used figurative language, and I think I may have something along that line.
Starting with an air traffic controller's blog post, Anticipating Separation:
Retirement is a great job but it takes a while to get it. Don't lose patience. Anticipating your own separation can be an agonizing process. Retirement, by its very nature, is a self-indulgent act. As it should be.
When my time came I was done being the team player. It was finally time to act in my own best interest, thinking only of myself and my family. As every controller knows, the sooner separation is achieved ~ the better.
When you start out, you want to get "checked out". You try to be aggressive and anticipate separation. The instructors teach you that while anticipating separation is good, what it's all about is ensuring separation.
I've been anticipating separation, today I achieved separation, and I went to the Admin Officer and checked out. Full circle in a way that Till Eulenspiegel might appreciate.