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My Letter Of Resignation

At the ripe age of 64, I hereby announce my retirement. Below, you will find my letter of resignation.

June 15, 2015

To Whom It May Concern,

I have quit.

I’ve quit being overly ambitious. What I have is exactly what I want. And what I want is exactly what I have. And when I believe otherwise, then I know I am confused. That’s when I stop profoundly, get still, and wait until the mud settles and the water is clear.

I’ve quit needing to be in control. That’s what the first half of my life was about. Taking my life by the horns. Exercising my will. Creating the world in my own image. The second half of my life, that’s more about giving up control, letting go of my grip on things, letting go of my grip on myself. It’s not about being willful; it’s about being willing.

Willing to be wrong, which means I’ve quit having to be right all the time. I don’t have an opinion about this, and I don’t have an opinion about that. I’m old. I don’t have the energy to butt heads. Besides, it’s funny how often it turns out I am wrong! It’s really helpful to have a lot of people around me who know better.

I’ve quit having to be good looking. Sure people sometimes tell me, especially in Japan, that I look like Richard Gere, (minus the hair). But, in reality, I look more like Bernie Sanders. I’m no longer lean and mean. I’m pudgy. I’m getting crusty on the outside, but supple on the inside. On the surface I’m looking old, but deep within I’m finding my innocence through my maturity.

I’ve quit having to earn money to justify my value. I know my self-worth, and it’s got nothing to do with money. Poverty is having nothing left to give. I’m giving away what I know as generously as I can. Sometimes I make money doing that. Sometimes I don’t.

I’ve quit having to be a star. I know what it’s like to be a star that has lost its constellation. It’s like being nowhere, lost in space, spinning in utter darkness. Existence is co-existence. To be means to be with other people. Less celestrially speaking, I’ve changed from being a pitcher, to being a third base coach. I stand on the sidelines, speaking in code, discreetly tipping my cap, pinching my nose, and pulling on my ear. I want others to make their way to home base.

I’ve quit feeling responsible for the lives of my grown children. That was a tough job to give up. Loving my children; that job I will never give up.

I’ve quit taking myself personally. Whatever people see in me, I know they’re seeing themselves. I know I’m just a mirror, and that others are mirrors for me. I know we’re only reflections of one another.

I’ve quit acting like a donkey with a carrot dangling in front of my nose, forever enticed by something I’m never going to get. I’ve quit chasing after the carrot of enlightenment.

I don’t dance. I quit being a dancer, not modern, not tango. No twisting again. One day I woke up and after 40 years of doing Tai Chi everyday, I just stopped. And I don’t miss it at all. I don’t identify with being a good mover, nor a movement educator. I’ve quit identifying with my coordination. In fact, I’ve quit identifying with my body at all. I’m a no body. For a long time I thought I was a somebody, somebody special. But now I know better. I’m finally free from that illusion. Free at last. Free at last.

Know that, though I resign from my previously held, long-standing position, I still love my work.

I hereby throw myself, with renewed vigor, into my life. I throw myself into my life, into my destiny, with joyful abandon. I throw myself, I scatter myself, into the world like Von Gogh’s sower of seeds; what grows, grows; what doesn’t, doesn’t.

What Walt Whitman declared in Song Of The Open Road, now I too can declare:

All seems beautiful to me,

I can repeat over to men and women,

You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,

I will recruit for myself and you as I go,

I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,

I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,

Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,

Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.

Photo: B. Fertman, Pedernal, Coyote, New Mexico

Photo: B. Fertman, Pedernal, Coyote, New Mexico


Yours truly,

Bruce Fertman


17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dear Bruce,

    I am also 64 and will leave my school district in two weeks. Your writing inspires me. I will be engaged in some consulting projects (because it is fun!) with school leaders in the future. As I prepare for this endeavor, I plan to ask questions rather than provide answers.

    I will also spend more time with family and friends; our son died last October and time is no longer a luxury at our disposal. I will devote copious amounts of attention to travel and reading. I, too, have let go of savoring “being right” – largely because “right” is an illusion and lacks holistic perspective. It is liberating to come to this realization. Thanks for so gracefully and insightfully expressing the sentiments of many of us in the “boomer” generation.

    Kind Regards,

    June 18, 2015
    • Char, i was moved by your letter. sometimes i think i am not all that great of a teacher. it is hard to technically teach others to do what i do. but i do the best i can. but what i have been able to do sometimes, and what my teachers did for me, was to inspire people. and this seems like a real service because it ignites the fire within someone and then they go and do the work they have to do from the inside out. i’m sorry to hear about your son. and i am glad to feel how much energy you have for this shift in your life. stay in touch if you like. bruce

      June 19, 2015
  2. Wendy Hardman #

    Thank you Bruce. You make me think and feel my thoughts.

    June 18, 2015
    • how flattering to have an actual family member read something i wrote. you are very welcome.

      June 18, 2015
  3. janleder #

    I love how many people you have touched with this article! Bravo, Bruce~

    June 18, 2015
  4. This is extremely timely for me, and I can relate so much to it.. except I’m still very much interested in fitness and wellness. But the letting go of those certain ambitions and other preoccupations is truly liberating. Thanks for sharing!

    June 18, 2015
    • jan, i glad you enjoy this post. i am not adverse to fitness and wellness. i am a rather fit and well person. i like hiking in the mountains. i like riding my bike. i like eating good food. but i do these things because i like doing them. i do them because they are a part of my life. i don’t live my life to be healthy. I am healthy so that i can live my life. i am not sure if i am communicating what i mean. it seems that we have as a culture become obsessed with fitness and wellness, as ends in themselves. fit for what? well so that we can do what? just my thoughts tonight. wishing you well. bruce

      June 18, 2015
      • janleder #

        Hi Bruce, thank you so much for your reply. Yes, you have quite eloquently communicated what you mean, and that is precisely what I’m relating to. My fitness is quite personal, almost private, although I enjoy my gym membership and being around other people working out. I’m also into bike riding, prepare almost all the food I eat, and – back to the point of your article – am recently liberated from my own “ambitions” in a big way. I so appreciate this article, as it affirms the very growth I am now experiencing. And, I need to bookmark this and re-read it a few times more! 😉

        July 7, 2015
  5. Tamara #

    Such joy to read you, and thank you for the gifts herein. It speaks to me too, at 75!

    June 17, 2015
  6. Thanks Bruce. Put into words with greater insight and acceptance than I ever could. Just letting go of personal responsibility but still being engaged and involved. As I am a little older than you I really appreciate your “resignation”. Very best wishes for your future.

    June 17, 2015
  7. Beautifully said.Real living. No striving and therein is the lives us. Namaste .Nuala

    June 17, 2015
  8. Max #

    very nice.

    June 17, 2015

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