“It’s Retirement Day and I finally understand that I mean no more to them than the corner trash can.”
That stopped me in my tracks.
This was a statement from a man who is feeling lost.
From the power of his words I would guess that he was forced to retire, either by circumstances such as health or by a mandatory retirement policy. Either way his world has just been turned upside down. He is being made to enter a new and, it seems, frightening period of his life.
My first thought was that this fellow is a man who strongly identified with what he did for a living. He was his job.
He mentioned all of the relationships he had on the job and how now they were all being taken away from him. He sees his retirement as a rejection rather than as a reward for a job well done.
This man is in serious trouble. He is stepping into a void.
When I retired, also not by choice, I had a conversation with my Doctor. He asked me what I would do once I stopped working. I told him, “Oh, I’ll keep busy.” He stopped me and said, “No, you won’t. You’ll keep active. Keeping busy is what put you in the position where you now have to retire.”
I have a feeling that it might be the same thing with this man who is being made to retire against his will.
Strange as it may sound, I never had a “career” in any one area that supplied a paycheck. My work life changed directions a number of times. I was compelled by circumstances to change directions just to make sure that there was food on the table. I had to learn to be flexible. The longest I ever worked for any one employer was 11 years, and even there I had an ever changing array of jobs. I was, in no particular order, a Buyer, a Trainer, a File clerk, I planned events, and put out a monthly newsletter that went company-wide. I never did anything long enough to get invested in it – like it seems that this blogger who is feeling like a trash can.
After I read this man’s lament about retirement I felt compelled to say something to him. I’m not one to preach to anyone about how they should live their life, but I felt that, if I waited too long, I might regret not speaking up. We have all seen people in his position, feeling like he does who retire and die – never finding a way to live after leaving the workplace.
I wrote to him.
“I offer you congrats on your retirement. It sounds like this retirement was not your idea, but thrust upon you. I have no great guaranteed solutions or advice – except – Keep active, not busy, and use your time to explore areas that have always interested you. Start your own business, be a consultant. Write a novel, volunteer to help others in need. Kiss your wife more because she’s going through this retirement too. Enjoy yourself.
That job was what you did. It was not who you were and are.
Go for it!
John (retired for six years”)
I don’t know if that will help him. I just couldn’t let him think that his life was over.