Endings come in many forms ...
and the probability that I may be experiencing the end of my formal work life is gradually dawning -- and with it comes confusion and depression. I'm not ready, but it's quite clear that I might never be. My identity is so much defined by my work - and my work has been defined so by me. I will go on, surely, for some time yet, but in a different relationship to the world around me. It may take months to untangle the web of uncertainty and gain a redefinition of purpose. I'm not at all sure that I can live without intentionality but that may take new forms, I suppose. I'm not used to drifting -- something that may be quite appropriate to these years. I believe the RV crowd would call this freedom, and they may be quite right. Maybe this is what my contemporaries have discovered, and what I speak of as drifting might be quite different from what that word suggests in the old context. I also suspect that my answers will more than likely be found now more in poetry than in job descriptions, mission statements, or how-to manuals. But that should speak well for the long dormant poet, Betty, finally being released to simply "be." I wish I knew ... .
I've finally allowed the batteries in my Palm Pilot to die. The faint alarms are now silent. What entries there are on my dance card are more social than work or social action related, so the change is already happening. Why don't I feel that the social dates are worthy of Palm attention? Still there's that commitment to speak at the educator's conference on April 3rd, the one I agreed to do for the National Park Service. Other than that ... .
I do wish that I could feel more of a sense of completion ... but I don't, at least not yet. Maybe this is the rationale for retirement dinners and gold watches to mark the time, and honorary degrees that put a period at the end of one's career. Without those milestones, there's nothing to mark the time and allow for the formal withdrawal and transition into whatever-the-hell-the-next-step-is!
Instead of fading quietly into old age I find myself fixed on getting tickets to see DJ Spooky's Birth of a Nation presention next weekend (Friday and Saturday) at the Yerba Buena Art Center in San Francisco. His work is so exciting and the intellectual edge that it creates for Hip Hop culture must not go unnoticed or unheeded. He is about as cutting edge as Ken Kesey was to literature and John Cage was to music years ago, though his art will surely find greater recognition in this more eclectic world culture, and more quickly. Heard an interview yesterday where he gave the reason for his adopted name. "Music is the invisible art. There is something magical about that -- and I identify with that concept." He holds graduate degrees in both philosophy and english literature. His web site suggests that this is one to watch for future greatness. The rate of change will work in his favor, as the arts begin to catch up with technology, hopefully.
But would it be far more fitting if I took out a membership in AARP and fired up an interest in geriatric policies?
Dylan Thomas may have been right. I probably will not go quietly into that dark night!