But that's not how I started retirement, so despite the still wondrous and welcome novelty of afternoons that unfold rather than gallop, I'm very aware of the challenges of adjusting to retirement.
During the first full week of my retirement, I acknowledged in a blog post that retirement would require me, in due time, to develop a new self-definition based on a yet-to-be-developed sense of purpose or direction. I also asserted that "constructing that new, purposeful identity prematurely would be a mistake," and that I was "feeling dedicated to not making decisions for the sake of eliminating uncertainty."
So here are the two challenges I'm facing as I try be guided by my pronouncement and my related aspiration: the world and myself.
So many things that look stationary aren't still at all. Take this stream that flows toward the Housatonic River often imperceptibly enough to seem still. This photo could easily make you think that you're looking at a shallow pond, not a tributary. But maybe there's such a thing as enough stillness. All around us, the world moves forward, giving and asking. Enough stillness could support enough reflection to inform a coherent if provisional response to that moving world.
I found this out last week when a former student teacher contacted me for a letter of reference. No problem, I said. And suddenly my stationary problem became a stationery problem. For the last ten years, I've written professional communications on Cambridge Rindge and Latin School letterhead that bore my name, title, and contact information. What letterhead now? No problem, I thought. Microsoft Word. Stationery templates. No doubt I could find a template that I liked and insert my new professional information. Wasn't it just for this moment that, at the prompting of my good friend and mentor, CRLS' instructional technology support coach, I had created a new e-mail address specifically for post-CRLS professional communications?
Finally I found an encapsulation that's good enough for now: "Educator and Blogger." Since "educate" etymologically derives in part from "educere [meaning to] 'bring out, lead forth,'"*** "educator" seems the best term at the moment. The most respectful, dignified forms of bringing out and leading forth always require the collaboration of the so-called leading and the so-called led if their common goal is empowering the led to direct their own learning and work with confidence, hope, and skill. That often means more listening than speaking, more discussing than presenting on the educator's part. No panaceas here; just thoughtful processes that embed materials, tools, and stories of change, ideally shared at the precise moments when they're most wanted and needed.
So as much as I'd felt the world was pushing me to define myself before I really wanted to, there was something liberating in choosing some labels for myself -- especially given that I can revise them in the months ahead. As to the balance between "educator" and "blogger," who knows?
I generally seek certainty and clarity at moments when being open, flexible, comfortable with not yet knowing, even downright relaxed and completely distracted would be more helpful. I either want the answer, or I want to feel no pressure to have any answer. I've selected another Berkshires image (more evidence of the compulsion to know?) to orient me, to anchor me just enough. Here, pooled water and flowing water live side by side, parts of the same stream. There's no avoiding the overall flow or the periodic exchanges between the stationary and the moving. As a result, the reflecting pools are bright and still, but not stagnant.
*Screen shot adjacent to this text from http://moderndestinationweddings.com/UploadedFiles/lp_12_Sandals-Negril-Sandals-Cafe.jpg
** In 1989, I received a small stipend for writing a column for a periodical called New York Teacher.
***Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=educate