Retirement Notes II

I had a revealing dream last night. It woke me up with a start and gave me the clearest feeling that I’ve got to finally grow up! There I was 72 years of age and trying out for the basketball team at the local high school all three of our children attended years ago.

Now, in “real life” (as they say), I used to be a pretty good basketball player. And in my dream, I was thinking that I still was, even though I was having trouble making my jump shot.

Then the moment of truth came. The coach was selecting the starting five. I was sure I’d be picked. To my surprise, I wasn’t. Next he started calling out names to fill out the roster. You guessed it; my name wasn’t called. So there I was at 72 left on the bench all alone and watching very inept, out-of-shape high schoolers taking “my place.”

All of a sudden I found myself wearing a suit and tie instead of my basketball stuff. Now, I hardly ever wear a suit. And one of the next times I do, I’ll probably be laid out in a coffin. Hmm.

I think the dream depicted my feelings about retirement – and perhaps life’s approaching end. I feel I’ve been told in several different and important (to me) venues that I’m not really wanted the way I used to be, and that the world can get along quite well without me.

Well, duh!

But even if it’s obvious, I’m the sort that has a hard time stomaching the message and accepting the gift of retirement and “declining years” with the grace, gratitude, and relief most people associate with leaving formal employment behind.

It’s what I have to work on. I suspect there’s a lot of “Catholic guilt” lurking somewhere here. And there’s a whole lot of “letting go” that I’ll have to work through. I’ll be reflecting on such issues here over the coming weeks.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 40 years. Three grown children. Four grandchildren.

7 thoughts on “Retirement Notes II”

  1. I don’t mean to negate your feelings of sadness and discomfort with the change you’re experiencing (I think it’s completely normal!), BUT….
    1, We still miss you and wish you were around. In fact, you are still around because LASP is soaked in your contributions – so much so that it wouldn’t be recognizable if we were to remove the “Mike parts” of the program (including the parts of us that have been shaped by you).
    2, Although you may not be “formally employed” that doesn’t mean your thoughts or knowledge or feelings are any less meaningful to the world at large. You may no longer be a “professor” in the classroom, but you continue to be a teacher in life to so many of us.
    3. If I had a team, you’d be starting every game. 🙂

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    1. Dear Laura, Thanks, Laura. You’re always so kind. It’s not that I’m depressed about this. In many ways I’m enjoying retirement. It’s just (as you say) the “natural” and healthy process of trying to figure out who I am now that titles and roles have changed. Actually, the blog is helping matters a great deal. I’ve been thinking of it as a class for the “followers” and the others who drop in at odd times. Also, involvement in the ecumenical faith community that’s emerging here is becoming a nice focus. Needless to say, I greatly enjoyed working with you, Trevor, Anthony and everyone at LASP. In so many ways, it was a wonderful “capstone” to my years of teaching. We’ve all influenced one another in so many ways that we’re both conscious and conscious of. For all of that I’m very grateful.

      ________________________________________

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  2. Mike, nobody, on their deathbed, wished they’d spent more time “at work”. But you are evidently have so much fun just “doing things”, like the blogging, that you seem totally retired to me. But then you always did have that joie de vivre!

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    1. Thanks, Liz. I think you’re right, I’ve finally retired. The thing is the work I was doing in the classroom was never “alienated labor.” But neither is blogging or working with the ecumenical faith community that’s emerging here in Madison County.

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  3. Mike, I read your retirement blog and actually feel sorry for you … you are looking back to what you used to be and not forward, using your experience to add to your knowledge base — your stuck. I may not make the team but I will make a wonderful coach or mentor to the younger players.

    You are a little older than me but I want to continue to grow. I will not greet old age gracefully. As I write this note I am working on finishing my second PhD. This one is on adult vocational education. This is for people that want to keep going on with life and not only learning new skills but exploring new domains of knowledge and new venues for cognition. People our age have experience and wisdom gleaned from our past. What better way to say “I moving on an upward way, new heights I’m gaining everyday !!!” I want my spirit to grow. My dad told me many times, “where a door is closed, find a window — keep going !!”

    I love your blog (work) on Mary Magdalene. I have bought and am reading several texts on Mary Magdalene. I have no problem with Christ being married to her. I believe she rounded out his humanity and gave him insight and the ability to reach inside of us and speak to our inner soul.

    Thank you for your blog. I really enjoy your thinking … you make me think.

    BIll

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    1. Thanks, Bill. Your advice is well-taken. Actually, the “project” represented by my blog is a very modest effort in the direction you’re signaling. I’m hoping that if I can assemble a substantial list of those “following” I’ll be able to continue sharing what I’ve learned over the years with a group similar in size to the students I was working with each year at Berea College and in Costa Rica. Thank you for your encouragement.

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      1. Mike:

        A priest friend of mine told me it is better to “wear-out” than it is to “rust-out” – Fr. Kinney.

        I love being alive and I love working in whatever capacity that G-d keeps giving me courage to pursue.

        All my best

        Bill

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