Invisibility

When I closed my office door and began to dream of writing a book, friends asked, “Why”? Striving to be truthful, I answered, “To avoid becoming invisible.”

They objected, especially those who are younger, not wanting me to feel diminished by growing old. They tried to talk me out of having this concern. But they could not, for I’m a realist, and know that aging eventually brings a retreat from center stage.
One particularly close friend pursued the point, “Do you mean invisible as a woman or in a more general sense?” she asked.

“Both,” I said.

As women grow older, we accept a measure of invisibility. As we advance beyond the ever-expanding stretch designated as midlife, it threatens us in earnest. As we walk down a sidewalk, male heads no longer turn, no eye contact is sought. But with family and friends, and professionally, we can continue as vibrant, seasoned, and accomplished players years after feminine allure has faded. It’s not a bad trade-off.

Only a Pollyanna would insist that nothing has changed when the step slows and maintaining bone and muscle is an ever-greater challenge. We spend many hours developing future plans with the knowledge that even the wisest plan may go awry.

For me, writing keeps the stage lights on. And recalling memorable experiences, both personal and work related, exploring and crystallizing their meaning and crafting a story, offers a new role, a revival, a second act. Is this a universal dream for those growing older, to pass along what life has taught them? Is it a dream for the not yet so old?

To those dear friends who sought to reassure me of my continuing relevance, I’ve apparently failed to communicate that becoming less visible is not all bad. So here’s the good news for me, which will eventually be true for them:

I’m no longer burdened by ambition. Though eager to enhance my ability as a writer, I have no more mountains to climb.

The skills I developed over many years of professional practice allowed me to serve the needs of clients caught up in distressing times with calm assurance. Younger colleagues often seek my advice, and their expressions of gratitude warm my heart.

A new generation is coming forward to assume leadership of volunteer projects that remain important to me, permitting me to enjoy the role of valued advisor and engaged spectator, leaving me precious hours for my own design.

Never again will I wear uncomfortable shoes.

The clothes in my closet are classics, by my own definition. Being in tune with fashion matters not at all.

Without guilt, I no longer attend social events I think will be tiresome.
Responsible only for my own timetable, I can talk with a friend for hours, even in the middle of the day, should we both choose.

I’m no longer a consumer of anything other than consumables. Well, that’s not entirely true as I am part of the Apple world. But simplicity allows me to have greater focus and enough time to become technologically savvy.

I don’t have to pretend, so as to be perceived in a favorable light. I don’t have to hide who I really am. Invisibility has morphed into transparency and now, with publication this month of The Third Person in the Room, renewed visibility.

This has been an exciting and rewarding adventure, prompting me to turn to urging some other retired friends, male and female, to foreswear invisibility and get their feet wet in the publication waters. I know well the accumulated wisdom and insights they have to offer and they are significant. I would welcome hearing from others who may harbor the dream of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to share what they have learned over the years. I can offer some guidance, and from this task I will not retire.

………..

As many of my readers already know, the paperback and e-book of The Third Person in the Room, Stories of Relationships at a Turning Point is now available on Amazon. Hardback copies are available at: nolankerr.com.

 

 

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “Invisibility

  1. Bea, I am glad that “reply” seems always available with your blogs. I am working on photo images to create my memoir. So, I might add from “negative to image” to your list of pen to paper, finger to keyboard. Thank you for your encouragement. Since I was “retired,” I have spoken to many about invisibility. For me, it was no longer being asked to particiate on boards and commissions where public policy was discussed. I am using the images to recall the experiences, trying to get to the original passion that lifted me to each arena. And, wanting to keep up with the usefulness of technology, I am learning editing software. This slows down production, but I think will improve the outcome, all the while it shifts my brain into a new gear. I would love to catch up when we each have time. Much love, Pat

    >

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    1. Pat,

      I think your plan for a memoir built on the passions that inpired your photography in different arenas and at different times of your life would be beautiful to behold. I have admired and enjoyed those of our photos I’ve seen, usually on my comcputer screen and would certainly value a beautiful book to hold in my hands which I could return to time and again.

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  2. Bea, in the years before Third Person was published, you shared with me some of the doubts you were having. At each stage you thought about the various challenges, figured out whether and how to meet them. You put the project aside, then picked it up again. You coped with large stacks of paper on your sofa. You consulted others and weighed the options. Now that it’s published, judging from Facebook you are having a grand old time. Hooray for going through the process honestly, grappling with doubts, and finally taking the risk of becoming visible on a whole new level. And now you’re advising others to do it–what can I say except mazel tov! Love from your fan and friend, Janet

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  3. Thank you so much for these thoughts. I am not planning to retire anytime soon—I LOVE my job!—but it’s never too early to start thinking about a plan for the other side of that decision. I have thought about it more in terms of staying relevant, but I am not sure there is a difference. I wish that there was more value in using retired professionals to mentor young/upcoming professionals. Maybe that’s a choice by the retired persons?
    Your book release/signing event was wonderful!
    Penny Gates

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    1. Thank you, Penny. The Ohio Supreme Court had, and likely still does have (?), a mentoring program which pairs “mature” lawyers with recently admitted memebrs of the bar. About ten years ago I was paired with two recent graduates and both of them became lifetime friends. In recent yers I’ve learned as much from them as they did from me. We should find out if that program is still active. You would have so much to offer and it is great to connect with that generation.

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  4. Bea: I am in research mode for Encore Careers aka Second Acts. Your post will be plagarized into the mix of ideas. I plan to present via Power Point w/CLE or OLLI. Best regards, Bill Duning (also Not Invisible)

    *From:* Bea V. Larsen *Sent:* Sunday, September 29, 2019 3:38 PM *To:* duning@grayandduning.com *Subject:* [New post] Invisibility

    bealarsen posted: “When I closed my office door and began to dream of writing a book, friends asked, “Why”? Striving to be truthful, I answered, “To avoid becoming invisible.” They objected, especially those who are younger, not wanting me to feel diminished by growing o”

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  5. As always, beautifully written and thoughtfully stated. It gives me much to ponder as I inch closer to my retirement years and the ever-present question of how I will spend my time once that life-changing event occurs. Love, Sandi

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  6. You may be old—alas, good friend, you are old, but you certainly are an “oldie but goodie”!

    Another warm, insightful piece: thx as always.

    The launch was terrific! Both of is enjoyed it a lot. We will order the book soon!

    STAY WELL, and young at heart!

    Sent from my iPad

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