Friday, 11 November 2016

Look! Here comes Pete wearing his beach bum hat

Yesterday, while wending our merry way along the byways of Tomatoland, I was struck by the thought that right now I am not reading anything in particular, which is unusual for me. What I have been doing is dipping into articles on-line as a follow up to what I was reading, or rather re-reading just before we left home. 

Maybe it's a reaction to retirement, but lately I have found myself revisiting books that influenced me in my late teens - such as Schumacher 's 'Small is Beautiful' and excerpts from R D Lang's 'The Self and Others '. Following up the latter, I was introduced to the work of the Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber, and also came across other, more recent work that builds on Lang's approach, such as  Hubert Hermans 'The Dialogical Self'. 

What these thinkers have in common is they see our sense of self, not as a product of various personality traits, but an outcome of outer and inner dialogues that change constantly depending on circumstances, the role we are in and the people we are with. 

If this seems esoteric, it's not, and in fact most of us have had direct experience of both approaches. Anyone on Facebook will have been invited to complete on-line tests purporting to reveal if you are introverted or an extrovert, the extent to which you have ADHD tendencies, or your place on the autism spectrum. Perhaps you have been a victim of team building days at work, forced to take the dreaded 'Belbin test' revealing if you are a 'completer finisher' or 'resource investigator', or some such imaginary work-being. I am not a fan of pigeonholing people. 

Equally, most of us have had moments at work when we have been invited to reinvent ourselves - when some bright thing suggests we all look at a problem with 'a marketing hat on', or an exasperated colleague, trying to support someone who lacks confidence or is anxious, looks at you with that wide-eyed 'I-am-at-my-wits-end' expression and mutters, "I am not his mother, you know!" 

What has this got to do with spending your retirement wandering about in a motorhome? The moment you finish work, suddenly a whole raft of previous selves cease to matter, me-manager, me-teacher, me-cannot-wait-for-Friday, me-dread-Mondays, me-must-hit-targets, me-one-day-might-get-found-out...poof! Gone. Other selves emerge, and for the last few days I have been happy to mooch about in the battered sandals of one of the newer versions of me -

Look! Here comes Pete wearing his beach bum hat! 

The hat is real:

Purchased, we think, in the Florida Keys in 2007, folds flat and fits in a cabin bag, regains its shape when unpacked to look fashionably battered - it's an awesome hat, and one of the few material possessions I would be sad to lose.

When I retired I binned 28 ties - Beach-bum me needs only: 

A little frequented beach...

A ridiculous hat and washed out, but indestructible tee shirt....

baggy shorts...
beach chairs that are difficult to get out of...

well worn sandals and a bare foot companion....
The state of mind is triggered by: 

sands that stretch forever...

spectacular sunsets

misty dawns

super moons

beach shack restaurants

whitewashed walls dripping with bougainvillea

empty coast roads

parking with a view

And results in:

jumping in.

The anthem of the inveterate beach bum is:

It's been rattling around in my head for days.


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