What Did I Do? Part I

Being ever the lucky little shit, I’m actually in something of the homestretch of my career at this point. My last day of work will be June 1, 2019 (though it will hardly involve work, really no more than donning a robe, marching to my faculty seat on the graduation stage, listening to pretty words as sheepskins change hands and tassels change sides, then reversing that order and hugging a bunch of newly minted graduates, including Maisy). I could calculate the number of actual days between today and that day, but that’s not how I experience my job at this point, something to get through day by day (maybe some days, but not many). So, perhaps naturally I find myself looking back these days and considering my career in toto, thinking about its logic, its narrative, its worth, and beginning to try to draw some conclusions about it all.

This is something of a necessary exercise when you’re a psychologist. Unlike doctors, lawyers, and corporate types, we don’t nearly have the sorts of tangible measures of success to inform our review that other professions do. A doctor cures, improves on a condition, or doesn’t. A lawyer puts affairs in order, settles the case, or wins or loses it. The businessperson produces X number of widgets more, achieves promotions and titles, improves profits, grows the company, etc. The psychologist? Essentially has a chat and hopes for the best as you make your way to your car. And when you don’t come back? We hope that’s for good reason.  But often enough, who can really say?

So for the next few blogs, I’m going to do something I haven’t really seen many folks openly do, which is to critique my career. About the only time you see anyone doing this is when an aging celebrity, or perhaps a well known corporate titan, is encouraged to look back on their working efforts later in life. Of course, just by the fact of that person being interviewed on the subject you know there’s glory in the rear view mirror. I’m not sure why it is an average Joe comme moi doesn’t do this in our own small scale fashion. Is it because to do so is to seem braggy in some way? Trust me, I don’t intend to brag. In fact, I’ll go ahead and offer the preview that, as I look back on my career, I’m not sure I’m all that impressed. In fact, would that I could, I may well call a mulligan on my career and tee up another ball. Oh my!

But don’t get me wrong: I’ve had a perfectly good career, a pretty interesting one, even, one that took unexpected directions, ended up playing out literally around the world, one that let’s me say, “I played the Rio in Vegas” (and not refer to gambling), even allowed me to make my way to the front of the stage so I could be right there when Elton John played “Bennie and the Jets” in our company parking lot, as if to me because he knew, that’s my song. Along the way, in my actions I’ve inspired at least a few people, offered relief to many more, extended a small bit of help to lots of others. I’ve played various roles in supporting a change in the direction of individual careers, teams and departments, sometimes whole companies. I’ve spoken in front of hundreds and hundreds of people.  Afterwards, they often applauded.

So this isn’t about someone who went not very far and did not very much.

Still, yeah, a bit meh, have to say, in hindsight.

Why go through the exercise? Because the unexamined life, of course, ain’t worth living, right? We spend what percentage of our adult life at work? Answer: a stupid percentage (which I base simply on the frequency with which deathbed reflections yield the insight, “I should have spent more time at work,” which is exactly zero). Oh yes indeed, we should all take such stock on that which we gave so much of ourselves to. If for no other reason, the exercise might really inspire you to smell the ever living shit out of the roses from your retirement party forward.

(That didn’t sound quite right, did it? !!!)

And as anyone who’s paid any attention to this blog knows, I’ve given myself a new lease on things since I went sober, a huge part of which has been to be able to look at myself fully (sans horrific shame), and to make really conscious decisions, at long last, about, well, everything. And that’s exactly what I intend to do where my “retirement” is concerned (retirement sounds like such a downshifting in things, while I every bit intend in my life for it to be a rocketing forward, I assure you)(I promise you). Knowing from whence I came can only inform good decision making going forward, I’d like to think.

Finally, as with most everything I put out through this blog (if you haven’t noticed), I want to leave a record of these thoughts as yet another breadcrumb along the trail of life that my daughters may nibble on some day as they advance toward their own glory.

(856 days.  Tee hee!)

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