Last week I wrote this post We are living in strange times. Towards the end of the piece I had zoned in on those who are in their mid-life approaching the twilight of their professional life. Contrary, to the popular belief, for all you know, they could be getting ready to ride the wave of eventide.
What could be the way out for this not-so-irrelevant, significance-seeking soul? Well, at the root of this situation lies a social expectation. Said or unsaid, the colossal authority of society expects him to behave in a certain way. Sober, serious, withdrawn, reflective and definitely retired. This expectation is more a shadow being carried over generation and inherited unconsciously by us. In a hi-context culture like ours, it is re-enforced by complementary behaviors of people around. There is nothing coded.The first step to freedom from this illusory bondage is to break the phantom rules. Just like the adolescent does it.
Some of the ways could be:
- Engaging in right brain creative activities like music, painting, drama or even dance. No wonder, some octogenarians are still going strong and command a lot of respect as creative artists in the society.
- Being in company of youthfulness and definitely out of the company of those who are pre-maturely ageing. Be with children, be with students and become like them. Even if it means playing fool. After all, don’t you, at time also want to be silly too?
- That brings me to the powerful tool of self-humor. Even before you entertain anybody else, you kill your crying ego when you make fun of yourself. After all, a part of your playing victim is an egoic design, saying, “I am more unfortunate than anyone else” and thus being one-up. Please remember, even when you are quietly hating yourself, you respect and uphold that part of you which hates. So, turn the game on its head. You will ridicule that part of you that ridicules you and suddenly find the truth peering out of the illusion, the ‘maya’ of your story of yourself
- The challenge of this pre-retirement stage is that something tells you to get detached. You are not supposed to binge as much as you would have done in the past. To make it a reality you have brought upon yourself pathological indicators like blood sugar and cholesterol. You are not supposed to go on a shopping spree, buying impulsively. Again to make it a reality, you have brought upon yourself financial constraints. And you are not supposed to freak out over week-end getting away to a nearby resort to chill. You have either sold your vehicle or your family has taken charge of it to carry out more important chores. Don’t bother about the vehicle. Any which way, given the traffic menace and lack of parking facility, it is more a possession of pain than pride. Hop on to a public transport. Take a day ticket. Or even go to the nearest railway station to take you a random destination. And remember do all this, quietly, by yourself. People around you won’t want you to freak out like this. They don’t know that to be detached you don’t need to leave the world. You leave the mind that the world lives in.
- Look at your close relationships. Are you really living them or feigning to do so for collective convenience? Waste no time to put in your most open and honest effort to get them back on track. If it doesn’t work out, well, the world is waiting to embrace you. Go out and create new relationships. One that you can live by choice, not survive by chance. If you are not bothered, nobody is bothered about it.
- Finally, your wisdom of having lived many more winters than most is extremely valuable. More valuable that what some bestsellers can dish out. Because it is first hand and existential. In such strange times as now, your wisdom is more than ever required to help the human race move through this crescendo of chaos to create a new harmony for itself. Look out. Many institutions need you. And if they don’t it’s all the more better. Make yourself an institution and go all out to touch and transform lives. You will feel more relevant, more significant and most importantly more purposeful than ever before.
Go out, reach out. Now. And journal it the way I am doing it now.