The gift of retirement

31 March 2022

Dr Amar Rughani talks about what retirement means to him.

The natural arcs in our lives

My wife, as so often, helped me without even knowing. Sue, a much better GP than myself, gave patients the time they needed. To become more ‘efficient’ would have taken away what made her work meaningful. Sue used a phrase that really struck home when she said she found her approach unsustainable and was leaving because ‘My era has passed’.

It made me think about the natural arcs in our lives and the importance of moving with grace, not rancour, between them. It made me think about not overstaying our welcome with one community only to join late with the next. And of adopting a mindset that is less focused on our physical disappearance from one community than our spiritual appearance within a broader one.

What to do with our time?

"The penalty we pay as doctors in prescribing for the living, is that our living is prescribed for us." We sacrifice our person on the altar of our persona and are happy to do so, fueled by the motive of living up to what is expected of us. And then comes retirement when if we are fortunate, we have the scary prospect of directing how we use our time. Let me share a couple of my experiences with you.

WH Davies said "What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?" This meant little to me when I was younger, but means more to me now because I stare less blankly than I did and I savour each day and savour each relationship. At times I may be brisk, but I’m not hurried.

My second is of giving back. It’s not for us to determine the future, but we have a valuable role, perhaps invaluable, in encouraging those younger to engage confidently with the world, just as we were encouraged to do by those who made sacrifices for us.

To a new phase

To me, far from being an ending, retirement from one phase of life is simply the gift of entry to the next, where the insight that we gained through helping patients experience better health can now help us all to live better lives.

I wonder what it is for you?

About the writer

Dr Amar Rughani is part of the Later Career and Retired Members community.

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