I think I may be in the process of retiring. I thought that once before and then re-discovered how much I still enjoy my practice. Now I am thinking about it again as my husband retires and is experiencing some health issues; we both are.
For the time being, I will start by limiting my practice to “by appointment only” and will continue to do email and phone consults and columns for the Chronicle. I am working on a book that will include a collection of past columns.
The whole concept of retirement seems to be changing, I think. It seems more like reinventing ourselves as circumstances shape us and we discover that we are not our work, but that our work is us. It is about how we find new ways of giving our gifts.
I once suggested to a client who had lost his job that he might want to think about what his life’s purpose was apart from the job. He turned it around and asked me what mine was. The best I could come up with was to alleviate suffering. That sounded too grand and impossible, so I corrected it to helping in the transformation of suffering to growth and joy. These days I think it is just to share joy. My finding and sharing joy happens in listening and being listened to. No matter our age or circumstances, giving the gift of listening and paying attention may be one of life’s highest purposes.
My late mother-in-law told me at age 95 that she wasn’t sure what her purpose in life was supposed to be because she did not think she was accomplishing things or helping us. I told her that just being with us was enough. I think that may be right, as just being with and among so many of you continues to be that for me.