Competent, Efficient, Creative, Contributory
Besides letting go of the roles that were the pillars of my professional life – working with clients as a psychotherapist in a 30-year clinical practice, teaching the neuroscience of resilience to mental health professionals and bouncing back from disaster to courageous ordinary folks in venues around the world for more than a decade – retirement is requiring the letting go of identifying with the values underlying those manifestations.
Not that I have to let go of being competent at everything, but certainly I feel more comfortable guiding people in groups of four to experience how sharing moments of kindness shifts their mood, their view of themselves, their view of others than figuring out how to re-hang a closet door that no longer closes or download the new parking app that has replaced putting a quarter in the meter.
I used to pride myself on going to the bank-library-grocery store and talking briefly with three friends each in a quick one hour break between clients. Now I have the spaciousness of time to not only stop and smell the roses, but as my friend Edward said recently about mindful awareness, to “stop and smell everything.”
Being Creative rather than a consumer
I love being immersed in a creative flow, writing a newsletter, teaching a workshop, working through a rough patch with a client, insights and new understandings emerging as we go. And I also remember one year (2016) when I didn’t even have time to look at the catalog for Cal Performances, let alone buy tickets, let alone go to anything. Not one single concert that entire year.
I have long felt the pressure to earn my place on the planet, let alone try to save the planet. It’s still essential to try to save the planet, but I’m more accepting that seeing the goodness innate in another human being and helping them see it in themselves is what heals the planet, or at least the human occupation and shaping of it
As I’ve been revising my website to reflect my new reality of being retired, I’m pleased to see the wealth of resources in the archives honoring that goodness and that healing. And I will continue to post these weekly newsletters as long as I have the curiosity and clarity of mind to do so.
A colleague recently reminded me of this resource: The Neuroscience of Attachment, first posted in September 2008. Which would have been around the time John Cacioppo published his pioneering research on Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. I wasn’t aware of Dr. Cacioppo’s research then, [see my post now last week Growing Beyond the Loneliness] but my Neuroscience of Attachment article is still excellent. Long, but truly both clear and comprehensive. And, with many practical suggestions, eminently useful.