Falling down

All of us who make it beyond our teen ages see rises and falls in our lives. You may experience early life athletic prowess, magnificent good looks, academic successes, or career achievements later in life. In Hollywood, the success stories are dramatic and satisfying once achieved, that’s it: The end of the show and the credits roll.

You and I don’t have the Hollywood disappearing option. After we reach our peak, we’ve no alternative but to ride the rollercoaster down. After a brief period of relief, we soon wake up to realize our power base vanished, the performance awards and party invitations are less frequent, and won’t be coming back.

At my career peek, I’d start at 5 a.m. to catch a flight to Michigan to meet with bankers, contractors, or real estate agents building million-dollar restaurants. People would hang on my every word. To employees, I was an open door to their career, income, and bread-winning. Though never a king, I impacted employees, vendors, and professional people’s lives. They treated me like I was significant and felt important.

Today, retired, I’m up maybe by 8, spending an hour dressing, taking pills, finishing physical exercises, and picking up the mess I left last night. Influence on other people’s lives has changed. By putting down the seat and shooting straight in the bathroom today, I can avoid the wrath of my wife. That is significant. I take responsibility for picking up the daily mail each morning. Then I’m on my own till evening when I wash dishes. Before, I employed dozens of dishwashers but no longer.

No one endures a calamitous decline of status and dignity like that without anger, depression, or alcohol. For celebrities, athletic medalists, film stars, or front-page politicians, the descent must be even worse.

Is there some less toxic solution to get you through the day’s ignominy as your power base, Rolodex, and A-List party invites vanish?

 Though never a celeb, my descent from company owner/President down to lavatory sharpshooter was horrifying. I needed a safety net to make it survivable.  

I found it by seeing the irony in retirement or post-peak life, by self-medicating with increased doses of humor so as to cope. Laughter and comedy may not work out for everyone, but among several shitty choices, humor is low-cost, non-toxic, and non-fattening. You could do a lot worse.

Even if you are not a celeb and have no plans to become one, I recommend a humor-lined safety net for any down days you come up against.

How do you do that? What are the solutions

to your post-peak?

  1. Don’t let them see you sweat. Yes, it’s the end of the world as you knew it, but the same as getting out of school, starting to date, or getting a real job.
  2. You need new humor material. At no cost, YouTube has every “Yuck” you ever laughed at, and so many more comedy routines you’ve never tried.
  3. Outlook is everything in this game. If you can’t do an attitude transplant, at least find yourself some “humor-colored glasses”. See the world in a funny light.
  4.  Runner’s World columnist and guru Dr. Sheehan has a prescription for transitioning: “See yourself as newly liberated. You’re now the author, creative director, and lead actor debuting in your newest life drama. (That allows me to chuckle at my new “Sharpshooter “status.)

Post Script:

You don’t need to be an old restaurant guy. How about following the golfer in the “Dance Monkey viral Video”?


Categories: Humor

4 replies

  1. Oh, Barclay! Please NEVER stop writing. I just reposted this “Tones and I – Dance Monkey” clip on LinkedIn, crediting you and Your perspective on the ‘downward rollercoaster is Priceless! Laughing my Ass Off!! (Because it is So true). Humor will get you through times without (anything) better than (anything else) will get you through times without humor.

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