I’m retired, and I find now that essentially I am being a resource looking for a need. Periodically I find something I can do, something to pass the time, but seldom do I find a way that I can contribute. I suspect that this is typical of many people who are retired. I also suspect that anyone who is unemployed (involuntarily retired) struggles with these issues. So I invite the reader to think about your own life, and what you offer.
In this post and the next three or four, I’m going to tell the story of how my work has evolved. And of how I still seek to be a resource.
In retrospect I have always been a resource looking for a need. I am also very aware that there are two types of resources:
- contribution (gifting), and
- seduction (wanting something in return)
And it is always a mixture. In my case, I predominantly want to contribute, but if I make a little money in the process, it is bonus — I like to have the occasional treat.
Another way I have said this is that there are only two things I can do with people.
- I can give them a gift of my time or my energy.
- A gift has no price tag, absolutely none, not even a thank you! Yet I gain merit (personal valuation) from gifts — part of the paradox of life!
- I can do something for which I expect reciprocity (a transaction for payment!).
- I do not gain merit from this; I resent when I don’t get paid!
For me, maintaining clarity concerning these two is absolutely essential to effective living.
So what is my need to contribute.? Principally to be complete in my life, to be used up in the process of living. In essence God (life, mystery, the universe — whatever word you want to use) has gifted me, and I want to gift back. As far as I can tell, it seems to be a fundamental human need.
But in particular, I find that I am still looking for a need to which I can be a resource. I strongly believe that at some deep level within our society there is a huge need for what I have to offer, but I have yet to find a way to access it. Because of my work as a therapist, I am convinced that our world is also very afraid of what I offer — in-depth authenticity.
Retirement is an interesting word. If you think about recreation as re-creation, a shift to a new mode of being, then re-tirement is meant to be a new clothing, a transformation to a new way of being. Ideally, the process coincides with the late life transition to eldership.
I certainly find that my last few years have been in the nature of a transition. But I had not expected it to be so painful. My mid-life transition was very painful, and I had done immense personal growth since that time. I easily recall a number of times when I thought the next transition would be relatively easy. Not so!
My Western society is also very poor at transitions; there are almost none of the initiation rites of passage that are present in indigenous societies (and so essential to healthy living). In particular, my society regards retirement as a mythical state where one plays golf all day and is supposed to be happy — such a load of crap wherein the skills of a lifetime are discarded.
To be continued.