Retirement and Unretirement (An April 1st Tale) 1990

I retired April 1st [1990].

For years I planned to begin retirement with a walking bridge between the world of work and a world beyond work. I would push a mail cart from San Francisco to the United Nations in support of peace and the U.N., from April 25 to October 24. But on April 26, at Martin Luther King, Jr., Park in Berkeley, under the city’s U.N. flag, I announced that I would not walk.

The doubts and fears about a solo walk which I had tried to push aside had finally overcome the energy of my dream, hopes and preparations. I became depressed and distressingly suicidal. For about two weeks I stewed in my own juices, ashamed, disappointed in myself and wanting to die.

Years ago my older brother had killed himself in his late twenties. I knew how hard that was on family and friends. That knowledge, my deep belief in the preceiousness of life, support from famly and close friends, and some crisis thereapy led me to loking for some way out of what felt like a self-made trap.

When I had announced the cancellation of the walk, our postmaster said something about the people on my route would like me back. Now I decided to find out whether there was a way to cancel my as yet incomplete retirment process. There was. I went for it.

June 9 I went back to work on my old route through a process part bureaucratic, part very human and part miraculous. I am still depressed with varing ups and downs. I am glad to be alive and back on my “appointed rounds”. Acceptance and affirmation from postal workers and patrons have been helpful factors for which I am grateful. I have no dates, calendars nor slogans for any second retirement. One day at a time sounds good.

I am in theapy and counseling seeking healing and understanding. Instead of walking “from sea to shining sea” I am on our inner peace pilgrimage across a personal continent of questions and cofusion, perhaps a pilgrimage from me to shining me.

Possible moral to this tale: Don’t put all your retirement legs behind one cart.

Bill Trampleasure