3/14 Turning into the wind

Wind eddy - Teignmouth 2008

This is essentially a boat-based blog and therefore I will continue to use nautical terms. Work with me on this.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am in mid-tack – head to the wind. I have just finished the day-job. Several weeks ago I was a dentist, now I am not.

I am in a situation that must be common to everyone who has just completed a career of forty plus years plus – a feeling of facing two ways at once.

The first direction – a wistful glance over the shoulder to the life I am used to. Less so now but I still wake in the middle of the night mulling over what may be happening in the practice. “How are the team getting on? How can we improve our service? How can we make life easier for those patients who are currently experiencing problems?” I have always done this. Some might call this a source of stress but it is natural for anyone in any responsible job.

BUT this is no longer my concern! A younger, skilled, capable professional has taken it out of my hands. In a nautical sense, for me the weather has changed, the tide has turned and new tactics are required. I guess it will be a while before I get used to it. Perhaps I never will entirely. I have had the privilege of working close to people all my life. I have watched previous generations go through the same process. Some never lost the effects their working life had on them, others never looked back from day one.

The other direction poses the more challenging problem, of course – how to deal with the next stage in a long life.

In theory, it would have been easy to bear away and run before the wind now. The wind would feel less strong as I sailed with it, the boat’s motion less marked. Maybe even the sun would shine!

But what about all the sea I have worked so hard to gain over so many years? What about all that knowledge, all those skills, all that experience – and all the attitudes that go with them? Should I let myself lose that sea-room just because it’s easier? Or should I tack, face the tide and work further to windward?

As I hinted in the last post, the whole retirement process has taken a lot longer than expected – the shore is a little close for comfort. To avoid the rocks and reach the open ocean, I need to change direction – to tack away from the shore. As I turn to gain the sea-room, I am very aware of what is going on about me and there is an opportunity to reflect on this critical waypoint in my life.


Although it can be read as a single post, the above is part of a series that illustrates one of the author’s current interests, taken from a locker full of interests, at a major waypoint in his life. The series sets out as a comment on retirement before focusing around language. He wonders whether he himself has the language to cope as he steps out into the wider world popularly known as ‘retirement’ – an irreversible step into a world that he has previously only glimpsed out of the corner of his eye, a world in which he thinks the word ‘retirement’ to be a misnomer. He has used the medium of the blog to paint the picture. The irony is that, whereas writing about it does allow him to reflect, sitting alone at a computer actually distances him from the face-to-face interaction he is describing.

Wind eddy 2 - Teignmouth 2008