The Biblical reference is where John the Baptist declared that his role in the historical narrative would naturally diminish by relevance in order for the primary character to loom large upon a world in need of a coming Savior. Each of us strive daily to accomplish, achieve and advance (ah, the 3 “A’s” might be the title of the next New York Times Bestseller on the mass marketing list of self-help books); that is the natural inclination from birth to death – or, at the very least, until one has expended and exhausted the reservoir of stamina each retains for the daily battle of life itself.
What we fail to recognize is that, as another book of wisdom in an age prior to the declaration of a coming earthquake that would split the earth and crack the old barrels of fermenting wine (figuratively stated) pointed out, there is a time, a season and the proper context when certain acts should be considered (paraphrasing here), and prominent among them the capacity to recognize the appropriate time to begin paring back, preparing to recede and allow for the next generation to take its successive position of assertive presence.
Do we embrace the in between preparations for vanishing, or do we fight against it because that is what we have done all throughout our lives?
It is important, for instance, to apply the principle of eventual vanishing when one becomes a parent, in order to foster the self-confidence of a son or daughter; to slowly, incrementally and seemingly naturally allow for the opinions and views of the younger ones to grow in stature, relevance and significance, such that when adulthood is reached, the lowering of the parent’s perspective becomes equal to the rising of the child’s self-image.
At that point, when the balance between childhood and esteem for one’s parents meets in the middle upon a spectrum of wide variance, parent and child can become co-equals of a sort, and “friends” as much as a parent and child can be. In order to achieve that goal, however, it is necessary to engage in “in between” preparations for vanishing – not to totally obliterate the relevance of one’s historical accomplishments, but to incrementally diminish in magnification and presence.
Fighting against the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often based upon the lack of recognition that in between preparations for vanishing is a natural and necessary part, at a certain stage in life, during a particular season of one’s career, and when the time necessitates. Yes, the Federal career and the Postal work provided a sense of identity and granted a purpose, focus and compelling force during the productive career – but now, the season has changed, the context has altered and the time has ripened in another direction.
It is time to engage the in between preparations for vanishing – not to totally disappear, but to diminish, such that when a Federal Disability Retirement is attained, the next stage of one’s life can be opened for that which we term the greater adventure of life.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire