September 07, 2015 was my first Labor Day in about fifty years of being unemployed. Today when I went to see what was on Facebook I found this:
“Happy Without Labor Day! 09/08/2015. Been contemplating the agony and the ecstasy of non-labor. Despised and prized, feared and revered, sought and fought, sacred and profane, liberating and oppressive, curse and blessing, forced or chosen. A time to remember profound relationships that were inextricably embedded in co-working, now love labor lost. Vocation, how true was the calling followed and now this calling away?”
Who wrote that one year ago?
Facebook says I did. What was I thinking? Oh yes, now I remember. That was before I found The Good Men Project. What I was thinking was that the day after Labor Day in the USA, could be a day to celebrate those who used to labor, but don’t anymore.
I had thought that the first Tuesday in September might be the day. I guess I didn’t think enough of the idea to call an elected representative about it.
More and more women are identifying strongly with having career. Most men have done so since the dawn of employment. What is a man who is not in the labor force on Labor Day? Is it a day for celebration or despair or a little bit of both.
One of the greatest benefits of taking down the barriers to women identifying with the job they do for pay, is the lowering of barriers for men to identify less with what they used to do for a living. It is not always an easy transition.
With help from editors at The Good Men Project I hope I write better today than I did on 9/8/15. I am not sure what you would call what I wrote. I guess it is a poem.
Some of the poems I like reading, have parts in them that I haven’t a clue as to what the poet is talking about. I like to read things about astronomy, physics, economics and even a little about mathematics. All of these subjects are mostly way beyond my understanding.
When I read what I wrote back then, I know the meaning of every word. It speaks to me now more than when I wrote it.
If you are a man in retirement, I bet you understand at least a phrase or two of what I wrote.
I had a had a good long career. Parkinson’s Disease ended it a little sooner that I had planned, but hey stuff happens.
I knew that my retirement nest egg was one comparable to a humming bird’s, but so many men are in worse shape.
What I was really struggling with a year ago was with the question of, “If I am not a professional social worker, what am I?” I was struggling with, “If I can’t contribute adequately to the welfare of my spouse, sons and granddaughter, what kind of man have I become?”
It is a weird feeling when the burden of never having enough time pivots to the weight of too much time. I found that Facebook took some of the load off.
I was still settling into Facebook when I wrote what I wrote and posted it to my Timeline. I wasn’t interested in anyone in particular reading it. I just didn’t know what else to do. I take that back. In the age of Google and “Facebook For Dummies” I knew I could learn, I just didn’t feel like it.
It was enough just to write it and put it somewhere. It was a form of what us psychotherapist like to call journal work. The writing brings forth reflection. Positive reflection can be good for the psyche. It can be interesting to look back on what you wrote a year ago, if you can find the journal in the mess you vowed to clean up after you retired. Facebook did that for me.
In retirement many men hope that they can pass on some things that they learned the hard way, to make it easier for someone else. In this age of super charged search engines and most everything ever written a few mouse clicks away, gray haired oral tradition wisdom doesn’t have the market it once had.
Too many kids today are into being unique and more like themselves and less like me.
I am also afflicted with the common unasked for advice giving maladies common to those of an older age. I have gotten better at asking “Did I ever tell you about the time I. . . “ and not telling the story again anyway when the listener’s answer is, “yes.”
I now am better at noticing rolling eye balls in the audience at the beginning of my remarks rather than at their conclusion. When I notice I am much better at just cutting thinks short instead of asking in a terse fashion, “What?”
Now with Facebook I don’t have to combat any of these problems. I have found Facebook to be a place where people can express the most stupid of thoughts. A place where the most profound conveyers of wisdom can withstand the grossest of replies.
I learned to look briefly at other people’s pets and what they were having for dinner. I still don’t understand how Facebook serves up what Facebook thinks I should be looking at, but I think Facebook is doing a good job. I now receive the right amount of crap to be able to spot the gems meant for me.
I know that I can exert more control over this, but right now if it ain’t broke, I don’t have to “Like” it some other way. I too am afraid that with the best mix, I could become addicted to Facebook.
When Facebook introduced me to The Good Men Project, I should have recorded the date. At least there is a record that the first article that I wrote for the The Good Men Project appeared on the GMP website on, January 13, 2016. It was a special day.
I have found looking back on my experiences in workplaces to write true stories about lessons learned and questions unanswered to be most gratifying.
In my work life, issues about what it can mean to be a man and what it could mean, kept coming up as a primary calling. In retirement I am answering that call.
I did not make a transition from being a professional social worker to being an amateur writer. I made a transition to being a “good man.”
As a man I no longer identify with what I produce or with how much I make or don’t make doing it. I identify as a unique human being searching for ways to be more compassionate to myself and with others. Writing for The Good Men Project is one such way.
If you are a man who is retired from work and is wondering who you are and what you are going to do with yourself, you have come to the right place. I hope that this article got you interested in reading more articles produced by The Good Men Project. Here you will find the many ways men are re-inventing themselves. Here you will find some guidance.
If you think that writing for the Good Men Project may create a special date for you to celebrate I encourage you to do it. I think that I will be ready for my next birthday, because I am planning on celebrating January 13, 2017 before then.
The role of men is changing in the 21st century. Want to keep up? Get the best stories from The Good Men Project delivered straight to your inbox, here.