Friday, April 14, 2017



Regular readers of this blog know that I like snappy titles, and my essay title today represents this affection and needs a quick explanation.

DEFINED BENEFITS PENSIONa company pension plan in which an employee’s pension payments are calculated according to length of service and the salary they earned at the time of retirement.

DEFINED BENEFITS PENCHANTthe calculated benefits achieved from strong habitual liking for something.

DEFINED BENEFITS TENSIONthe calculated benefits gained from mental or emotional strain.


I’m going into Africa tomorrow, and will be hiking Mount Toubkal in the Atlas Range near Morocco.   INTO AFRICA is my clever take on OUT OF AFRICA by Isak Dinesen, published in 1937, and is considered among the top 100 non-fiction English books ever written.  In 1985 it was made into a movie of the same name starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

All this defined benefit info is crucial to my having the ability of getting into Africa.  And trust me, dear readers; my argument for such benefits will make sense before dipping my quill into the inkwell to pen a thousand more words or less.

Around the corporate water cooler there is always talk of the slow but sure dissolution of company Defined Benefits Pension programs.  Such modern times, because of cost, are disunion times for defined benefits pensions.  To put it another way, the traditional government Cadillac pension is everywhere transmogrifying into a Kia counterpart.  And to put it even another way, the Defined Benefits Pension is fast becoming the darling dinosaur company savings dollar, one that will never return.  But so what …

At my age in my world, in the here and now a fundamental recurring question in philosophy is, “Who am I?”   Answering candidly and succinctly for myself at present, I exist only for the reason all things exist, and that reason is evolution.  This notion works for me.  Indeed I am promoting the cause and continuing the species; I have three kids.  (And it just so happens that I am meeting the youngest of my offspring in Marrakech, Africa tomorrow.)

Hmmm … my offspring define me then?  Perhaps this is true, but not completely.   Other significant variables come into evolutionary play.

Certainly not meaning to scumble my procreative accomplishments, it also could be that my WORK, too, defines me.  I am a counsellor/therapist; I am a guitar and didge and portrait busker; seems I am whatever I want to be in this regard.  Saying thus, however, I am not my job.  If I were to measure my personal and social status by my job, I will most certainly end up in an emotional jeopardy when I quit or retire.

A rather BIG definition for who I am is … I am a BABY BOOMER.  And, as it happens, being a baby boomer, means I am performing in the third act of my life.  Baby boomers are those of us born betwixt 1946 and 1964 – I was born in 1951.  According to Lawrence R. Samuel (The New and Improved Third Act of Life, 2017), baby-boomers are those 60-somethings who are going back to school, starting new relationships, exploring their creativity, and embarking on encore careers.  Also, these third-act boomers are still working, unwilling or unable to accept that their minds and bodies have gotten older.  These kinds of boomers are in denial, as they desperately cling to their remaining notion of youth.

And so until infirmity when I quit or retire, what do I want to be when I grow up in Act III.  I must admit that if I do not grow in my third act performance, I’d consider myself to be just another wrinkled namby-pamby, two-dimensional character, going for coffee and chuckles with the former work colleagues a couple times of week.

I know that I am not my job.  I need more than work to define myself.  Perhaps I can turn to PLAY for my definition.  PLAY is where I continue to cultivate relationships and friendships beyond my work boundaries

To play means to get happy.  To get happy usually means having a passion for a particular kind of behavior.  Even though I’m now in Act III, I believe it necessary to develop and grow from the first and second acts to exit the stage with both dignity and passion.

An aficionado is a person who fervently pursues an interest.  By such definition, I am an aficionado in the regards of guitar and didge and portrait busking especially.  Around my ruck of fans and friends, I strive to be the quintessential sang-froid, Americana busker.

Social psychologists have tagged baby-boomers as the first ageless generation in Western history.  Social psychologists also state that interpersonal relationships are everything.  And so to have such a hobbyhorse as busking, I am totally immersed in my Zen-to-go relationships.

I guess I am one of those baby boomers who will stoop to pretty much anything to avoid being branded as irrelevant or obsolete.  I guess I am just a baby boomer, in my third act, searching to find meaning and purpose in my life.

Meanwhile back at my snappy title explanation:


Years ago I cashed in my defined benefits pension, and the practical benefits being to experience some international busking, and also being able to monetarily help my children in their post-secondary academic endeavors.


Over past decades I’ve developed not only a penchant for busking, but a serious penchant for fitness.  Physical endurance (strength and stamina) is the most significant pre-requisite for being a busker.


A psychologist would certainly suggest it could be that my penchant activities are simply a stalking-horse from my work-a-day woes, an opportunity to perform on the street stage my designed alterity.  It could be but I doubt it.   I must admit though, escaping to play in this regard does help rid, for those strumming moments, the tensions of any sturm und drang brewing in the backdrop of my life.


When I am out of Africa I have some immediate plans.

Factoid:  I’ve now got it in my head that I am going to pursuit Street Hypnotherapy.  I’m thinking, for a faux busker and pseudo-academic such as me, being a street hypnotherapist is the right way to go.  I plan on plying my new street trances this very summer.

Another factoid:  I am currently writing a book about schizophrenia and hypnotherapy as a treatment.  Once published, I am hoping to hit the international stage, speaking on what I know about schizophrenia from an empirical point of view.   

I’ll close this essay with a line from another hypnotherapist, Terrence Watts: 

You’ll never know how you could be if you decide to stay as you are.

Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:




No comments:

Post a Comment