I was perched on a green padded stool at my favorite watering hole waiting for my Long Lost Cousin to join me. We were recently re-united after fifty years!
After a few minutes, he climbed up onto a stool next to me and said in a choked voice: “I’m a bag of nerves since I retired.”
He did look pale and drawn.
“What’s the matter?’ I said, signaling the bartender for two more beers.
“I don’t want a beer, get me a whiskey.”
The bartender served up our drinks in record time.
“Now, that we have the drinks we want, what is all the anxiety about?”
“I had a dream last night and this voice kept asking me questions.”
“What did this voice say?”
“Well, it started out saying: “Now that you’re retired,” and then it continued, “Who are you? Where are you going? And where do you belong?”
My cousin’s eyes were bulging out of his head!
“Oh, it’s the old bug-a-boo, “Identity Crisis.”
“Yes, it’s a crisis alright! Ever since I retired from my job of 25 years, I’ve been at loose ends.”
My cousin drank his whiskey and ordered another!
“You retired a couple of years ago. How did you cope with those questions?”
LLC stared at me waiting for my wisdom.
“Well, I think it boils down to identity management, in other words, changing your identity. Get out of the work box you were in for 25 years!”
“Okay cousin, I repeat, how did you answer those questions?”
My LLC was pushing me for answers. I hoped I could satisfy him.
He broke into my thoughts and said: “And another thing, I feel like I’m invisible since I retired. People seem to ignore me! Why is that?”
“Boy oh boy, cousin, you’re really bombarding me with questions. Maybe we can tie both problems together. The identity crisis and the invisible feelings.”
We sat in silence for a minute. My cousin was shifting his weight on the stool.
“Well, lets start with the thought that we live in a “youth-obsessed” society and also a “work-oriented” society. So, when you retire, people tend to think you’re no longer a person of interest! Your opinions are not noteworthy! That is a prejudice that many people hold.”
“That’s a nasty prejudice to have,” said my cousin, angrily.
“Granted, but it’s a fact of life!”
“So, what do we do about it?” LLC was demanding.
“We have many identities, but when we retire from our life-time work, we lose that framework identity. So, we have to grow another identity, so to speak.”
“How do we do that?”
“By cultivating different interests. Every action we take has meaning to us and to others. This is why it is critical to shape our identities to our present circumstances.”
“I’m confused,” said LLC, rolling his eyes.
“Well, our identities are not fixed, they can be changed. Your new identity could bring more pleasure and happiness into your life. It’s great to explore new realities and ways of being.”
“It’s starting to get clearer.”
“Okay, let me answer those questions that I came to grips with when I retired. Then you can use my example as a guide.”
“When I retired I knew I would need some interest to fill the hours and to fulfill me as a person. I was always interested in writing but my daily work life used up most of my time. Now, I was free to create another identity. I began writing again.”
“That must have been a great feeling.”
“It was cousin, now let me answer the questions:
Who Am I?-I’m Writer Dave, a writer who gets great satisfaction out of creating stories and having them read by others. I belong to writer groups and I attend writer conferences that give me a wider social context. I also feel that I am a separate and unique individual, which is very important.”
I took a deep breath and continued:
Where Am I Going?-I’m directing my life toward learning how to write better. My goals are to write my blog and more novels in the future.
Where Do I Belong?-I belong and am accepted in the writer circles that I circulate in.”
“Wow! That’s great cousin. You sound very satisfied.”
“I’ll leave you with this, the older I get, the more I understand how my mind works. My identity is an essential part of my being which gives me satisfaction and stability in my life.”
“Cousin, I feel better already.”
And with that, my LLC left the building!
Great piece Dave. You have found yourself in writing. I have found myself in acting and singing. And we found each other in retirement. I think we are both very lucky men.
You do not know him like I do !
One thing about Dave Wise’s blogs, they make you think.
The blogs are always provocative either tied to fiction or fact.
The latest brings back his LLC (long lost cousin) who is always perplexed. This time it is about retirement. And from the perch of a green leather stool in a bar someplace north of London, Dave dishes out well thought retirement advice while opening an inside to the writer Dave. Retired or not, give it a read and don’t be surprised if you take some good retirement advice with you. .
I can see why I am not retired. I need the
communication time with others.
I hope you picked up the check at the pub because my mind was all tied up with your advice and I forgot to pay when I dashed out. Maybe I’ll buy next time, or we could bring our wives and make them pay! Thanks for the good advice cousin.
I think too many of us retire with no goals in mind. But everyone is different. So many love traveling, visiting relatives, baby sitting grandkids. Like you, I needed a new identity and now have two! I’m an author now and I also do arbitration hearings. Will I ever sit back and do nothing? Probably not!
Good advice to your #LLC ,Dave ! I could add wdowhood to your list of invisible people …but after 14 yrs, I’m well-used the that .Sadly I lost 2 further partners since then ….and thought “That’s it !” re relationships .How wrong can one be ? :o) .
Su Doku has played a big part in my life this millennium …an addiction,I’m afraid …but have qualified for the National Championships on a no of occasions.
Then Twitter came along ,another addiction, but I’ve carved out a new identity as @babciapat …
Hey ,life is for living …even in one’s 8th decade ! #OUCH
I have the distinct advantage of youth and thus I know everything!
It makes sense to me that, if you have a sudden lifestyle change from work to not-working, you might have difficulty adjusting – especially if you do not have anything to replace work with.
It would also make sense to me that you would think about that transition and take steps to mitigate it, either through part-time work or developing other interests. I appreciate that for some people, that might not be possible for all sorts of reasons.
Only 30 years till I find out how wrong I am!
Writer Dave Here.
Too bad I won’t be here to find out, Damien!
Great short story I enjoyed reading.
One must know oneself to be able to motivate others.
I never had difficulty adjusting to any situation,since I always know what I want to do in the future.
Dave had a vision long time ago to be able to give his
cousin GOOD ADVICE.