When you read that some actor, writer, politician or commentator (dare we ask why, in a single sentence, all of them have been lumped side by side) says X or does Y, we often allow our own ego as the “one-upsmanship” to overtake us, and we imagine that, if we were there, we would have said “XX” instead of “X”, or done “YY” instead of the mere “Y”.
At the moment, though we rarely recognize the egocentric reality of what we are doing, we actually “become” that actor, that writer, that politician or that commentator, and assume the role and identity of the person we have replaced in our mind’s eye. Insanity, of course, comes about when a further step is taken — of believing not what we “would” have done or said, but incontrovertibly becoming that someone whom we are not.
The quantity of time expended within the insularity of our lives is astounding; and the personal — albeit creative and imaginative — excursions into another type of virtual reality consumes a greater part of each day, every hour and multiple minutes of our disjointed lives. Perhaps this occurs in a quick flash of a stream of passing thoughts; or a long, enduring daydream that recurs through the day, the week, and over a month’s time; but of whatever duration, being another is something that we all do, and always at the expense one’s own ego and those who are close to us.
Being another also occurs in hopeful encounters with our own circumstances. We imagine that we are ourselves, but also another who is simultaneously identical and yet different. That is what a medical condition does — it divides the reality of who we are today from the memory of who we were yesterday, and further projects a person of what will become of us in the future, near or far. Often, emotions become entangled in the images of who we are, and so regret pervades the past, anxiety overwhelms the present, and fear pursues the future.
Medical conditions tend to inject a factor that we have no control over, and it is that loss of control, combined with who we see ourselves as, and who we would rather be or become, that presents a dilemma: As circumstances change, can we continue to remain who we are and allow for being another — the “other” being the person who we once were — to continue as if such changes of circumstances never occurred?
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition has “changed” a person to the extent that he or she is now “another” — someone not quite dissimilar to yesterday’s you but also not identical to today’s yesterday of the person we just met — because of circumstances beyond one’s control, it may be time to do that which only another in a different time and distinguishing context may have contemplated: file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.
The reality is that we are never the same as who we were yesterday, and last year’s child of imaginative “being another” has grown into the “other” that was once imagined.
In the end, the essence of who we are will not have changed because of a medical condition, and what we do in life beyond filing for and obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement is more important than feeling self-pity for not having fulfilled one’s desire for being another, who was yesterday’s another in a different role from today’s another or tomorrow’s another.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire