Last night, Beth, Kyle, and I were binging, “Grace and Frankie,” our latest after a run out of COVID lockdown of “Schitt’s Creek” (3X), “Downton Abbey,” and “The Komiskey Method,” among others. One thing I like about “G&F” and “Komiskey” is the perspective of older characters played by legends including Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Alan Arkin, and Michael Douglas. I can relate. To the “older” part. In one scene last night, Sol, played by Sam Waterson is trying to convince an older administrative assistant that “the time has come” for her to retire. She ends up turning the conversation on him with a revelation that “the time had come” for him, too. When Sol got home, there was a symbolic ground-level shot of his worn leather brief-bag hitting the floor, and his husband, Robert (Martin Sheen) asking what’s wrong. Weeping, Sol told Robert he had retired.
Beth and I glanced at each other as we often do when a scene or even a line in these shows strike a chord. “I wonder if we’ll cry,” I asked. “I don’t know.” I suppose the circumstances will participate in that outcome. Will our retirement be voluntary or involuntary? Being shown the door might produce the 5 stages of grief along with an opening of the tear ducts, yet even a willing departure will likely carry old brief-bags of emotion, starting with wrestling the question, “Who am I now?”
Well, that begs the question, “Who am I now, now?” Well, I’m a father, mother, grand-father (but not, “Grandpa”), friend, lover, future husband, brother, son, cousin, uncle, chef, writer, comedian, mentor, counselor, thinker, observer, inquisitor, star-gazer, meditator, empath. Certainly, I’m otherwise positive and negative characteristics depending on who you ask. It’s odd, though. Nowhere in there did I mention, “Director, Learning & Community Technology,” my current job title, even though I’ve spent 50-60 hours a week being that guy or some variation of him for the last near-forty years.
OK, so maybe I won’t cry about not attending meetings, answering emails, writing user stories, or designing a web experience, but I may cry about a big part of my existence now being behind me and not nearly as much time ahead. But not today. Not right now. Right now, I’m going to be a few of those things in the list above and be them while grateful for the privilege of experiencing this wonderful life.