A little while back, I spent a couple of weeks waxing poetic about the power and diversity of the human brain. It is an interesting topic to ponder. I like discovering how the creativity and diversity God gave us can combust in amazing ways. That chemical reaction of creativity and diversity can produce explosive results- both productive and destructive. Humans are powerful and unique creatures… by intentional design, I believe. God intended we would combine our miraculous minds to do wonderful things. Unfortunately, sometimes those miraculous minds do terrible things with just as much power and creativity. That is where that pesky “free will” thing comes into play.
While all the meanderings of my powerful and creative mind may be absolutely fascinating (at least to me), I know someone is likely to raise the question, “but what does any of this have to do with retirement?” After all, dear Terri, you call this bit of literary fluff a “retirement lifestyle blog.” You even call it “Terri LaBonte: Reinventing Myself In Retirement.” Haven’t you wandered a little far afield?
I think these are fair questions. However, I do have a few appropriate responses. Of course I do. Why would I have raised them if I did not?
First of all, the blog has been wandering off the “retirement” trail for years. There are six words in the name of the blog. Terri. LaBonte. Reinventing. Myself. In. Retirement. The first four still apply. The blog, as self-involved as it may seem, is all about me, so the Terri LaBonte bit still fits. As for “Reinventing Myself,” I feel like I do that every day. I am, at the very least, “rediscovering myself.”
Secondly, I think the only way I would have time to think these great or not so great thoughts is to be retired from working for a living. Self-discovery and philosophical musings, as entertaining as they are, did not fill a slot in my Franklin planner when I was working. Days seem to move along almost without any kind of thought whatsoever. So many times, I would cry out (at least on the inside, but often on the outside as well), “Could someone please just stop the earth from turning on its axis for just a few minutes so I can reorganize my brain?” My lungs certainly worked differently in those days. I inhaled frequent, tiny, shallow nibbles of air to keep me operational while saving precious seconds of time I might have expended feasting on oxygen. Nowadays, my diaphragm relaxes, and I feel my lungs fill with air on a regular, steady basis. Sometimes, when I get too wrapped up in my post-retirement activities, I can feel my lungs starting to ration air again and I know it is time to slow myself down- something I could never do in my working life.
I think my brain operates similarly. When I was working, I was so harried and so busy and so time starved. Small, practical, critical thoughts might ooze from my tightly disciplined brain when I squeezed my mind hard enough, but there was nothing free-flowing, organic, or invigorating about thinking. Now that retirement gives me time, my brain relaxes and wanders off on its own. Sometimes, I think some satisfying thoughts. And sometimes, I am just silly. Either way shows a certain delight with myself that was missing in my work life.
The third reason I think that sharing thoughts not necessarily about life in retirement is appropriate for a retirement lifestyle blog has to do with how one is conditioned. When I was working, not only did I not have a lot of spare time to network with the uniqueness of my mental disposition, but I also found that my job required that my brain behave in a certain way. I will not say that creativity and individual talent had no place in my career. I think they did. I will say, though, that I learned early on that the creativity and individual talent is best received when presented in an employer-shaped box tied up with agency-colored ribbons. My agency, like most corporate, hierarchical entities, did not value brains that wandered wildly. When a brain sits in a box for too long, it is apt to stay there until someone opens the package.
One of the sweetest things about retirement is that one’s mind becomes one’s own. When we walk out the door of our workplace, our employer hands us back that brain in a box. We have the time to open the package and we have the freedom to do so. We can even throw the package away. Since retirement, I am often able to let my mind behave as it wishes. For me, that means thinking and exploring and creating in ways I never could have when I was earning my living as a brain-for-hire.
So maybe “Terri LaBonte: Reinventing Myself In Retirement” is not exactly the best name anymore. Maybe I should reinvent the title of the blog. Maybe, from now on, I should call it “Terri LaBonte And Her Liberated Brain.”
So, what do you think? Should I change the name of the blog? How have your mental processes changed since retirement? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a liberated day!