Last updated on November 23rd, 2019 at 09:14 pm
I was in the car with my husband, as we were making our way home from our long day at work, when I first heard it—’rewiring.’ That was the word that Dr. Ruth, who was recently in Montreal to give a lecture on ‘Sex After 50,’ used to describe the fact that she is not retiring anytime soon (at 91 and a half years old!).
Instead, she told the reporter, she prefers to use ‘rewire’ to describe the fact that she concedes to doing things just a little bit differently, due to her age. That she is still able to jet across cities and continents, and continues to teach and learn, is absolutely awe-inspiring to me.
More than her physical stamina—which puts me immediately to shame, as I imagine getting right into my pajamas as soon as I walk through my door—I cannot get over Dr. Ruth’s positivity, passion and resilience.
I have lost that spirit. I had it in spades after graduating from university. I was in debt, and hungry for any work in order to pay back my student loans. I was not yet certain what I wanted to do with my life, and my degree was not very specific. A Bachelor’s degree with no clear major means you might end up selling shoes—not that there’s anything wrong with that—or finding a clerical position.
I was fortunate, I found the latter, and of all places, I ended up working for the university I graduated from. I was thrilled! I knew the campus inside and out. It was a great atmosphere, you felt perpetually young, the energy from the students rubbed off on the staff; I was so happy until … I was not!
I endured that clerical job, knowing that I had the freedom to move on to a more challenging position, but feeling too secure and comfortable in the one I had. I thought I would continue with my education and follow a profession, but my profession turned out to be Master Complainer (about not knowing what to pursue).
So I stayed. And I got married, and I tried to be a good daughter to my parents. Together with my sister, I faced that horrible time in your adult life when you lose your parents—and worse still, when you lose them both.
I plugged away
You fill your heart with comfort, whether that comes in the form of food or having a routine. For me, it was my job. After all, I had built up almost 25 years of not just having work colleagues, but also cementing true friendships.
I plugged away, I went from working on an actual typewriter (complete with changing ribbons) to a bulky desktop computer and processor that took up most of my space, to my now sleek laptop and open-concept office.
Though the technology was becoming more sophisticated, the tasks at hand and the reduction in human communication, day in and day out, were slowly becoming soul-crushing. It brings to mind that famous Dunkin’ Donuts commercial featuring poor, beleaguered Mr. Fred, who had to wake up before dawn to make the donuts. I had become Fred!
In a book I read called My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home, the author Lisa Anselmo writes:
Maybe it’s finally leaving that dead-end job, extracting yourself from a bad marriage, starting your own business—whatever it is, there’s a point when you realize you can’t keep living this way: your head spins all day, you don’t sleep anymore, you can’t shake an overwhelming sense of dread. The only thing that keeps you going is the dream of something better, something more. You fixate on that, and it helps you wade through whatever muck you’re mired in. You tell yourself, one day. One day you’ll make that move, and your life will begin for real.
But you’re waiting. Waiting for that moment when everything will line up, when you’ll feel stronger, when you’ll have more money. When you’ll be really ready to make a change.
Except, I’m here to tell you that moment is never coming.
You’re not waiting to be ready; you’re waiting for someone to give you permission.
At 57 years old, I have finally made that decision not to wait for a specific age when I feel ready. Instead, I have given myself permission to leave and start a new passage. In the meantime, what can I yell from the rooftops that has the same gusto as “I quit!” but with the recognition and respect that comes when you say, “I’m retiring!”?
“Hey everyone, I am rewiring!” Thank you, Dr. Ruth!