Thursday, April 05, 2018

Personal Identity

Much of my writing in recent months has been about the difficulty I've had as I transition to a retired life.  I am not sure exactly what a retired life really is.  If a retired life is a life of nothingness, then I do not want a retired life.  I prefer to think of a retired life as a life when one no longer works purely for money.  I may or may not ever work for money again.  I feel like my current life is a transition between my former life and whatever future life I will have.  In a sense, I am currently in a void or a tunnel between the past and the future.

Part of the struggle is the question of identity.  I spent 32 years of my life working for the same company.  Most of those years were spent as a leader and most of my time was in the same building.  Over the years I developed a reputation and an identity.  I was seen by some as the office hippie and by others as a "Zen Master".  Many knew me as the man who wrote daily thoughts which many people identified with as though they were written for them personally.  Some thought of me as the youngest old person they ever knew.  I also was known as a compassionate and caring leader who believed in the idea of servant leadership.  In other words I was Michael Brown.  When people thought of me it was generally with good thoughts.  I may have had my detractors but they were few.

The question is who am I now?

I am no longer the office hippie, Zen master, hip old guy, or the kind and compassionate servant leader.  That Michael Brown is gone.

If Michael Brown falls down in the forest and there's no one there to hear the sound, does he make any noise?

I have always believed in the importance of balance and what I call the tension of opposites.  As I have mentioned before, I always loved my solitude in the past.  However, in the past it was always balanced with full time work and the management of other people.  By the end of a typical work day or work week I was more than ready for some solitude.  Although I was a people person in the work place, people often drove me crazy.  Interaction with people involved a level of tension between meeting their needs and becoming exhausted from doing so.

It would seem that my current challenge is to discover a new identity.  Who and what am I now?  The old man has died and the new man is in the birth canal waiting to be born.  Being born or reborn is a painful experience.  Whatever is giving birth to me is still in labor.

1 comment:

Tim Bindner said...

If Michael Brown falls down in the forest and there's no one there to hear the sound, does it make any noise? If it is where I hike I will find you!