"In this sticky web that we're all in, behaving decently is no small task." -- Novelist Stacey D'Erasmo

Monday, November 20, 2023

How Not to Be Cool

     I was recently a guest on the podcast Awe-Inspired and Retired. We talked about all things retirement, from where we're going to live, to what we're going to do, to who we're going to do it with . . . or what we called the "three likes" of retirement.

     (You can now listen to both of the podcasts I've done using the links under "Retirement Podcasts" on the right hand side of the blog.)

     Anyway, toward the end of the conversation, hosts Caleb Miller and Riley Anderson brought up the subject of "tribes." Apparently, some of their previous guests, talking about retirement, suggested that, after we're done working and raising a family, we have to find a new place in life, find what they call a new tribe.

     Okay, that sounds reasonable.

     Or maybe retirees have more than one tribe. Actually, we all probably have different tribes in our lives -- with different people for different reasons. In my own case, I have my golf group, and my senior learning colleagues, and my "old friends" from back home. My wife and I have our couple friends. And we have, basically, two families (hers and mine, since we're both second spouses). 

     And then the hosts asked me, What's the tribe that everyone wants to be a part of? You know, the group where people are saying, "Yeah, I want to be in that tribe. I want to be with these kinds of people."

     The presumption is, maybe we feel left out of some group -- some group we think is cool -- that seems to enjoy a life that's easier, or richer, or somehow better. Maybe it's some special lunch group, or maybe the elders at church, or the crowd at the theater, or the board of the condo association. Or maybe we envy friends who retired to Florida or Arizona, or even abroad, because they are more adventurous than we are. 

     So, they asked me, is there a tribe where you say, "Gee, I wish I could join that group."

     The question made me chuckle. Because my answer is a definite: "No."

     The reason is, when I was a kid, through high school and beyond, all I wanted to do was be cool . . . be in the cool crowd. But in reality, as I've discovered over the years, the last thing you want to do is be cool. You don't want to be part of the tribe that everyone else wants to join. Instead, you want to be in your own tribe. People who you like, who do the weird things that you like to do, who accept you for who you are.

     And you do not want to be envious of some other cool people who may be richer than you, or more intellectual, or more artsy, or more sporty or more adventurous -- whether they're in town, or in church, or at the senior center, or living somewhere else. You just don't want to get into that.

     I am very anti-cool. And if you don't believe me, just ask my kids.

15 comments:

DUTA said...

When in retirement, we should belong to our own tribe - the tribe of our own mind and soul. That would help us maintain good health and promote longevity. A constant dialogue between mind and soul, that's what third age is all about.

ApacheDug said...

Hey Tom, I'll have to check out your podcasts. And good to see you writing here. I have to say, in all honesty, I cannot think of a group or single person I'm envious of. All I ever wanted was my own place and enough in the bank to take care of myself and I have both. Okay, I take this back a little; some years back I got caught up watching all these YouTubers who lived in their RVs traveling back and forth across the country. I thought it was so independent and cool. Now I know better, most of them for the most part say it's a hard way to live. At least I found a new tribe to call my own this past summer, when I joined my neighborhoods Senior Center. I didn't want to at first, I thought I was too young for them. I've since learned differently and have made a lot of very good friends.

Anvilcloud said...

Well, you can join groups, but begetting new real friends ain't always easy anymore.

Red said...

Cool is cheap and tacky as far as I'm concerned. There are many fine people who are just themselves. Good post.

Anonymous said...

I have had those same thoughts. I think of myself as "post-cool" because, like you, in high school I admired the "cool" kids a bit too much. I was in a relationship with a guy until a couple of years ago, and it kind of bothered me that he still desired coolness in a way I long ago left behind. Always wanted to go to the "right" concert, etc. That's when I realized how much I have changed and am now more concerned with my own interests than anyone else's. Delightful.
Nina

Gail, northern California said...

Loved this.

Kay said...

This was very interesting, Tom. I guess we have several tribes and I like them all. None are what I'd call cool. I guess I never tried to be cool in high school or later. I was just happy to be with people I liked.

Rajani Rehana said...

Great blog

Caree Risover said...

Strangely I've found finding my tribes in retirement far easier than I had envisaged. They are definitely uncool,but they are the people who are pursuing the same activities and interests as me and with the same outlook. Not surprisingly, I've discovered that we have far more in common than just our shared activity and some are becoming close and supportive friends.

Snowbrush said...

A very good post--thank you. However, as the existence of school shooters would appear to suggest, not everyone has a tribe, and a tribe of one is no tribe at all.

gigi-hawaii said...

My tribe is my extended family. I am too old to join another tribe.

Snowbrush said...

On the subject of tribes, I recall Groucho Marx's words: “I don't want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”

Your experience is very different than mine in that you appear to be very involved socially whereas the older I get, the less energy I have for such things. Although I wish I had a social life, and although I enjoy being around people, the fact is that chronic pain is so tiring and so sleep-depriving that I simply don't have the energy for it.

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Quality Second Innings said...

Very interesting article. Yes, I agree with you. As a retiree we need a group of people to whom we can interact. It is healthy for our mind and body to have daily interaction with people. It is advisable to talk to self when alone. I have posted an article on 'Talking to Self' in my blog.