Conversations on Retirement and the Nature of Work.

***POOL PHOTO*** Former New York Yankee Derek Jeter participates in a ceremony to retire his number at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, May 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Elsa Garrison, Pool)

The other day I got a call from Derek Jeter, Hall of Fame New York Yankee baseball player.

Me: “Derek, what’s up?”

Derek; Dude, “Are you retired or what? I can’t figure you out.” 

Me: “Look who’s talking, heh heh. Listen D, I got a call from Clint Eastwood the other day and we were talking about some of the same stuff. Clint was venting a little. “Sanford,” he whined. “Everyone seems to want to put me in a small box.” (“Pine? I joked”) “I want to keep directing even though I’m not in front of the camera much any more.”

Me now to Derek: “Derek I get it. For a while I wasn’t exactly sure either. When we moved to Ecuador in 2016 I was clear that I’d given up part of my work and definitely my day to day job. And for sure when my dad died last year the question of retirement became even trickier for me. In my own mind “retirement” was now connected to my own aging and even mortality. So full on “retirement” wasn’t something I was comfortable looking at too closely. And I didn’t like the box it seemed to be.”

But Are You Retired?

Derek: “Man, there you go getting all deep on me. I just wanna know if you’re working or not. Are you retired?”

Me: Derek look, when you left the Yankees you weren’t done with life. In fact you’ve gone on to do some pretty amazing things that contribute to Sports right? So when I sold the Bend Learning Center in 2016 it meant I’ve given up big parts of my work as a special educator. But I’ve come to see that I needed to redefine what working now means to me. The easiest way I can explain my “retirement” is that I’ve transformed the ways in which I now work, contribute and express myself.” 

Derek: “OK. What’s that mean, practically?”

Me: “It means I’ve let go of my role as an educational placement consultant. I gave up the Bend Learning Center which was my day clinic in Bend Oregon. It means If I get a call from someone looking for guidance on school or treatment programs for their child, I’ll refer them to someone else. The Bend Learning Center goes on because I was able to leave that legacy in other people’s capable hands. But there’s more to my desire to work and contribute than placement.”

Me: “What I’m telling you is this: I’ve hung up my cleats but picked up my hiking shoes. You see when I say I’ve changed the ways I work…here’s some more of it. I’ve written a children’s book on Anxiety that was recognized as the best new release. I’ll soon have another children’s book on Dyslexia coming out. And now that I’m free from placement work and the day to day clinic work I’m able to focus more on the parts of my ‘work’ that are also my true passions, not to mention learning a new language and exploring this beautiful Latin and Native culture.”

Derek: OK, I understand. So what else is going on? I mean I get the passions part. What’s that look like for you? 

Me: It means I get to choose projects that are most important and current for me. I’m now focused on using my experience in the cognitive sciences of learning, memory and attention, executive functions and motivation, in order to help programs that treat mental health issues of depression anxiety and addictions. 

Derek: Sounds good man. Thanks for the update. 

Me: Cool. Hey gotta go; Clint’s on the line.

Note: If the satirical nature of this isn’t clear, let me simply say that I also got calls from Abraham Lincoln and Satchel Paige.

About Sanford

Learning Disabilities specialist and Educational Consultant
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