Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Six Weeks

For the past several months I have been posting periodically about the change in my life that will be starting in December. Six weeks from today will be the first day I will NOT have a "full-time" job since, well, I guess it's about 40 years now. On Wednesday December 4 I will switch to a part-time employee as I make the first step of a transition to "retirement" sometime in the next year.

Pieces of the reality of it have begun to settle in, especially as it is now in that 6-week range. I have been talking with my supervisor about clearing out my office space, taking books home, letting people take some of them, pulling the pictures from the walls. Within a few weeks I will no longer be one of the primary group counselors of the program we have been developing for the past 14 or so months.

Six weeks from today I will not have to get up and go to "work" five days a week. Just two, sometimes three as a supplemental.

Reality, even hoped for and planned for reality, can be scary.

Which is why I have been doing some thinking, planning, talking, praying, coaching. In the midst of this I have been led to a book, The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years after 50 by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. In her research and interviewing she discovered the revolutionary cultural shift that has been taking place with those of us who used to be called "Senior Citizens" or, before that, the elderly. In the early years of my generation, the elderly DID include people my current age. The Golden Years were already looking tarnished for many. Come to age 65 and you were ready for the "Old Folks' Home."

Oh, how that has changed!

Even the first stage of this revolution, "Retirement Communities" where older people went to sit and play away their final years away from the distractions of young people (i.e. my generation). Oops. Gerontology is now outdated. We aren't riding into some Sun City Sunset. At least not in the ways many saw it 40 years ago. Yes, many of us are "retiring" from our careers, the jobs or callings that have given us pleasure as well as opportunity. But we want something different now.

We want to continue to be useful, but we want to discover new ways to use what we have been given. We want to continue to explore and dig, and relate and learn new things. We want to right wrongs we gave up working on. We want to leave a legacy while still learning new things. Life is too short to sit around the pool and sip lemonade. Sure we will do that, too. But there are books and stories to be written. There are pictures to take and videos to produce. There are bands to play in and music to be discovered. There are people to be mentor- and people still to mentor us in things we have been waiting for.

In short, life is still happening. Or, in the language we might have used 45 years ago-

Life is a-happenin', man.
No, it doesn't start in six weeks for me. It is just a continuation of a lifelong pursuit of life and all it can offer to me- and then to others.

As always, I'll keep you posted.

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