I am now officially a “retired” architect. My retirement was September 30, 2016 from Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. It was both a relief and resulted in a deep pain. Most of the employees don’t even know me anymore–only a few know who I am directly. I regret not being able to reach a deeper understanding of who they are; and especially will miss seeing them shine and demonstrate their considerable gifts. This was a joy each day—seeing people succeed, grow and mature. It was not so happy a time when people made-up things about me through distant and passive observation. But it really was a joyous time and place. I say goodbye now.
Being a retired architect means that I can no longer certify documents nor do any of the duties of a licensed architect. This was necessary since I will no longer be spending time acquiring the necessary continuing education credits.I am not unhappy about this. It is time to move along…
In two months I will be on my way to Florence, Italy to start an intensive drawing and painting course. I will be a full-time student and will not be thinking too much about architecture. I will be focusing almost exclusively on the human body and condition. I am also going to deep dive into my own condition.
I know too well my faults. They are numerous. I am impatient; eat too fast; verge on being judgmental; read in big spurts but not every day; interrupt when people are speaking; don’t exercise enough; prefer to be alone sometimes when I am with others; fastidious; perfectionist; … I could go on and on and on.
But the point is not to wallow in my shortcomings. The point is to acknowledge that leaving the table of my current life and finding another place for communion for a new life is the better way to start again. I will likely be leaving some friends behind. I will no doubt have less time for deepening close relationships. But the more I think about this chance we call life, the clearer it becomes that the inward gaze will reveal more than external searching. I know that my star is descending. Its cosmic trail is fading. While I remember some things as if they are new, I also don’t remember somethings that are new. A spiral for sure. An adventure for certain.
Finally, a word about mortality (uplifting I know). I was recently in London and visited a dear mentor from the early 1970s. He recently discovered he needed a triple bypass operation (which took place last week–shortly after our visit.) This man means a great deal to me. I learned more than I have space to articulate here (saving this for another post.) Needless to say, the thought of this gentle, talented man leaving our communal table too soon was distressing. My heart was heavy since at the time I did not know the outcome of the surgery. Happily it all went well.
What is complicated about this is the fact that he is English. The English are difficult for me to penetrate. I glide over the surface and occasionally my English friends will rupture the surface to allow a peak or short dive in to make tiny connections—but always conditionally. After decades I know some just enough to understand their place in this life-orbit. This man taught me many things–but I absorbed more observations through direct tutorials. Ironically these absorbed lessons are not forgotten and run deep in my inner life. So maybe this English-way is wise after all. Maybe we Americans, in our rush to be all to familiar, are not really learning much after all.
So, now is the time to move to the day-by-day and thought-by-thought as I search for my last table of life’s communion. To find and see beauty that can only be seen alone—not filtered through commerce, experts, friends or others. To discover what lies deeply buried inside this increasingly old shell. Both the old and the new Jeff will now dance together until they are conjoined and raise a new awareness of where the place of discovery resides. Let’s hope the end is after the song finished…and I have left this last table.