I have been made irrelevant
I have been made irrelevant. Powerful words of dismay. Two of my colleagues are retiring. This was a sentiment of one person. It made me think of my personal irrelevance. Do people disappear when they retire? Go away to some dark place because they have been made irrelevant. Histories, relationships, and memories are wiped away, and the person realizes that whatever the person built is not needed anymore. Is this why some are scared of retirement? Many of my bondhus are retiring now. There are mandatory ages in some places, others have done well for themselves and can call it a day. Some have choices, others do not. Although retirement is glorified as the golden years, sometimes they turn out to be nightmares. Because of the irrelevance. As I think of this, I wonder how it would be for me. Will it become a dark place or really the golden years? The doubt comes from the fact that I know how it feels to be made irrelevant and “disappeared” even before retiring. It hurts like Hell, when you realize that you are redundant and not needed anymore. Where relationships well established are suddenly vanished. When you responsibly stated, “Here I am” when the call for “Where Art Thou?” would come. And now the call is gone – you do not matter. You are not needed any more. One can be made irrelevant in so many ways other than retirement. There is now a process called ghosting. Where a person you may be connected with suddenly becomes a “ghost” – never to be heard of again – and in the process you are “disappeared.” Because you no longer exist. Is that what retirement can be? You are now retired from your job. You are no longer needed, you can be “invisibled” and no one really notices. As a bondhu who is retiring soon said that the wounds will go to the grave, or in my case be burnt to ashes. Is retirement a wound by itself or is it just a way of saying that your wounds do not matter – you are now irrelevant. I chose teaching as a profession. To me teaching is about relationships. Building them, nurturing them. It is not about telling people what to do and how to do, but about doing with them. In my life, in teaching entrepreneurship (and I might add – was handed an award for it), my point was to nurture talent – the ones who will take the risks, do the innovation and produce something new and profitable. And that takes relationships, not just book knowledge. When you retire are those relationships over? The ones you worked with, saw them grow, at some point will say – “not needed, you are now retired.” Does it hurt? Is that a dark place? The carpet pulled from under your feet and you stand there and realize you had constructed an illusion. Is that what irrelevance is about? I see my happy bondhus all living nice, retired lives – all enjoying the golden years – perhaps they are the fortunate ones where the relationships they built was not yanked away – others have wounds, and retirement just adds to it. As I heard my bondhu talk about the process of retirement, one that was voluntarily chosen, I shuddered to think what it will be like for me when I will be “disappeared” or “ghosted.” When the message will come saying you are now irrelevant in the task you did or the relationship you built. I am seeing this around me, but no one wants to talk about this. Because the ones who are “disappeared” are the powerless – the relationships and the voices are silenced. And they must grin and accept it – and walk away with whatever trinket is thrown their way as a parting gift – the infamous wristwatch or the table clock. It is taboo to talk about this, and thus I bring it up, I see the tired, see the let down, and see the “disappeared.” In some ways the “stiff upper lip” seems pointless when you are ghosted and the relationships you built, and nurtured just disappear like gossamer in the wind. I turn to an old favorite, I have used before, “Another one bites the dust, another one gone” because the “disappeared” never really know why they were “disappeared” in retirement or otherwise. Its only silence that remains. The messages stop, the phone does not wring, no one asks “Where Art Thou?” because you have bitten the dust. Finished.