5/14 Talking at cross-purposes

Slight swell - Eddystone 2006

This is the fifth in a series of reflective posts. They started with some uncertainty about how to deal with a common situation – a major life-change. As I have persevered, the posts are beginning to take a definite shape.


There’s been no shortage of advice on finishing the day-job.

The most popular one is “You’ll be so busy, you won’t know where you found the time before.”

That maybe so but the time between finishing the day-job and “being so busy” is an important one – not to be wasted as you ride the wave between one life and the next.

The process is running something like this:

  • Last month you were in a career, this month you’re not;
  • Last month you had spent over 45 years working within a special discipline, this month you are starting afresh;
  • Last month you were a member of a particular profession, this month you are an amateur in a wider world;
  • From being an older practitioner, you are now the new boy with a locker full of knowledge, skills and attitudes, wondering which ones which will be useful in the future, which ones you will leave behind.
  • People appear to be seeing a different person; you are certainly seeing people differently.

None of this is unexpected, and all of it is current.

What I particularly notice is that there is a change in the language that is being used. People are talking to me in “retirement language” while I am wanting to talk in “fresh-start language”. The difference may be subtle but the result is that we are talking at cross-purposes. This is not an uncommon occurrence. However, in times of change, we become very aware of it which is why it is worth pursuing.


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.

Gentle swell - Off Plymouth 2008