“Who do we want to be?”
On Being with Krista Tippett
“It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' says the White Queen to Alice.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
1 Corinthians 7:24 New International Version (NIV)
“You are retired?” is the most common question when I meet colleagues that I haven’t seen recently. It is a reasonable question since most of my medical school colleagues are retired. The better question for me is what does vocation look like at the end of full-time practice?
There are a lot of books about retirement and even some studies regarding surgeons. It seems to me that approaching the question from a vocational perspective is different than most of the books and the studies of physicians. A report from physician Dr. N. Thomas Connally gives us his personal and vocational account of retirement. (Select this report by clicking on it to see his video report.)
Vocational questions mandate looking back at the “direction of your life” and naming the “call”. The good news is that “age” gives us the benefit of seeing our story and its themes. Sometimes we find the answers and examples in other vocations. The CD “Paul Simon Songwriter” is a wonderful summary of the vocation of Paul Simon. We would not even think of asking the question, “When are you going to retire?” He will always be “Paul Simon Songwriter”.
For me the question of retirement from being an actively practicing physician does not have vocational meaning. The real question is not retirement but vocation. What new aspects of my vocation do I need to address? What are the missing pieces that have yet to be mastered? I have come to believe that my “call” has not changed even if full time practice stops.
Luce EA. The ageing surgeon. [Review] Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 127(3):1376-83, 2011 Mar.