Thursday, November 11, 2010
WHO AM I ? WHO WILL I BE AFTER I RETIRE?
For the last forty years or so I have been attached to the role of university professor. If I am what I do, when I retire, who will I be? Where will I fit in? Will I have to learn how to be a “retired” university professor or will I give up the role completely? Will I know anymore then than I do now about who I am?
According to Eckhart Tolle I am not “really” a professor, it is just a role I play as if life is nothing more than a giant 3D movie. If this is so, then what do I need to know to play the role of “retired professor” Well, lets see. I’m creating workshops to take out into the “community”; one of them is about living successfully in retirement. That’s a little bit like teaching people how to ride a bicycle and never having ridden one myself. (I do have a bike and I love riding it!)
Or, I could drop “roles” entirely; just be “myself”. Tolle recommends that I give up defining myself to myself or to others. To do this I need to develop the skill of staying in the “here” and “now.” Eckhart suggests, “True self-esteem and true humility arise out of that activity.
He says that if we are really good at our work we can be “completely or largely free of our ego”. The ego is what gets us into troubles of attachment. For me this involves the fact that this fall and next spring, the last two terms I will be teaching, I am being “evaluated.” I’ve been evaluated before. No big deal. Except that my ego is worried that perhaps I am not doing a good enough job.
Alfred Adler, one of my psychology heroes, argued that we, our egos, strive for perfection and that one of the things driving us is a “feeling of inferiority.” If I’m, (my ego) so good, why aren’t I teaching at Harvard? Recently, I saw a video of a Harvard professor lecturing. He was dressed in a sport coat and tie. I decided dress like that for the rest for my teaching career. This is my “Harvard” Harvard outfit. Albert Einstein is my person of high admiration. I know I’m not as smart as he was but I can dream
Back to the issue of retirement, I think the important thing is to pay attention to my attachments as they try to drag me away from the here and now.