It’s possible I have too much time on my hands.
That’s quite an image. I see my hands, on the keyboard. Are they weighed down? No. I have time enough, just time enough.
But I do have more capacity than I’m using. It’s been two years since I retired. In that time, I’ve been a newlywed, I’ve decorated my house, I’ve tended my garden. I’ve gotten sick, and lain on the sofa, despondent and barely moving. That was not fun.
Recovered, I look around at everything both in place and in motion and I understand that I can do more. 58 feels youngish, even the kind of 58 that’s almost 59. I imagine heads nodding.
We’ve talked here about possibilities, volunteering, writing a book, and so on. Those threads are spinning. Someone also suggested going back to school. I loved college, and feel no need to repeat the liberal arts, but there is one skill that interests me, from my work life. Software design, i.e. interface design and user research. There are courses I could enroll in, if I chose, and maybe work I could take on, subsequently.
What if, in addition to internships, we had “finternships?”
See, in the corporate world, we take a fairly linear view of success. One becomes CEO, or CTO, at ages that vary depending on the size of the company. Other paths are assumed to be a weaker, failed version of the heroic course. As a result, if you’ve been a vice president – albeit of small organizations in my case – for over a decade, it can be hard to go back into the work force as an individual contributor.
I imagine in other areas — science, academia, medicine, law, politics — one faces a similar issue?
But what if we formalized the process for those at the end of their careers, just as we are doing, increasingly, for those at the beginning? What if we institutionalized something where people who topped out could step away honorably and into another, lower role? Perhaps with retraining?
A “finternship.” Or as academia does, emeritus. I imagine a meeting, in which someone leans over to ask in their colleague’s ear, “Who’s that?” and she answers, “Oh, that’s our fintern.”
After all, so many baby boomers are booming into later life. And even if we tire of the politics of upper management, or the travel, or the long hours, we know a lot. Many of us are consulting, or changing careers, but always unofficially, with no articulated space in the corporate story.
Heroic mythology requires both the king and the magician. In 2015, let’s say a queen and witch. The magic people are traditionally quite old. They may no longer saddle up, no longer carry a spear, but without their counsel one loses the war.
In a pinch they’ll even cast spells.
Hey, it’s just a thought.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone.