I did it! I just gave notice at my job that I will be retiring. It feels like jumping off a 100 ft pole. For a long time I have anxiously considered early retirement. “Shall I jump?”
As I entered our little zendo last week, I prayed for clarity. I bowed, sat down, and heard, “Jump!”
The metaphor of the 100 ft pole is from a Zen koan. If you think you are enlightened or have attained something, you are stuck at the top of the pole. So, the idea, I guess, is to jump. But Suzuki Roshi said, commenting on this koan, “Actually there is no top of the pole. The pole continues forever. So you can’t stop there.”
I am aging and feel insecure. I want to stay at the top of the pole with my nice, secure income. But the metaphor probably means all the times I am stuck: thinking I should improve myself; thinking that my body shouldn’t really be aging; not realizing that everything is changing every single second.
Of course, one does need to consider income and one’s mortgage and financial responsibilities. One needs to consider that a Social Security benefit is basically small change. But I cannot remain stuck at the top of the pole.
When I returned home the day I had given notice, I opened my email, and my friend Jennifer Block wrote – not knowing that I had just announced my retirement – “When you jump, the net will appear.”