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  • Deah Curry PhD

The Retirement Riverdance Happening in my Head, Part 2

This Riverdance recording shared from YouTube is provided here as an illustrative metaphor for the processes and observations discussed in this post. The headline of the post is not intended to suggest that this Irish dance group is retiring.


First, you see the darkness. That's the descent into a realization that retirement might be a viable option. For a moment, you feel a certain building of suspense, and hear a loud beat counting out the time left for making a decision. Is it too early, you wonder.

Circles of light appear in your mind to highlight the accomplishments of your career, and remind you there are still goals to tackle.

That's when your mind starts to race with bucket-list urgency, and sly bargainings with Chronus. (Look it up)

The internal spotlight flashes and moves as if searching for some forgotten life purpose, while music ramps up in already breathless anticipation of how much would change if you started to say you were even semi-retired.

For an ego that revolves around one's work life, the effect is like the growing onset of a panic attack.

But then new possibilities for the future and unfollowed options of the past scamper in with the liveliness of two pre-teens bouncing off the walls at an airport, as you release your mind from adult responsibilities and allow it to take flight.

Then the poundings of guilt, fear, and anxiety start up like an interminable drum corps warning of the regrets you don't want to take to your grave.

As if that's not motivating enough, some insistent spirit guide in a voluminously loose blouse resembling nothing more than angel wings starts tapping a straightforward message on your shoulders. Now's the time to discover the sweetness of life, is his persuasive conviction.

And just when you think he's made his point, a whole troupe of back up Thumpers join in to further heighten the energy and emphasize the message. The organized routine is exercised with the precision by these hoofers in asexualized choreography, similar to a Can Can.

Now neural synapses begin a highly complex and coordinated dance upon the theme of retirement that oddly trigger the idea of receiving -- in Morse code, no less -- Eleanor Roosevelt's command that you must do the things you thought you could not do.

Try as you might to shrug off the worry that something psychotic is occurring in your right brain, the dancers continue tapping out - you can, you can, you must.

Funny how I'd never thought it would be a kind of risk-taking to pro-actively move into semi-retirement. Okay, yes, still hedging ... note the "semi". Not yet ready to sever my whole self-concept as a professional -- just how could I be a professional retired person? I would have needed a much earlier start at that than this. How could I abandon the still steady opportunities to mentor, and design, and provide intuitive wisdoms?

You can, you can, you must. Discover the sweetness of life.

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