Webster’s dictionary describes retirement as withdraw, retreat, give up. I have never done that, nor did I want to start that in my 60’s, how about you? When I left my 30 year career as a prison doctor, people would ask me what I would do in ‘retirement.’ Would I travel, pick up golf, catch up on sleep, relax, etc. I wasn’t entirely sure, but when I walked out of the prison that last day I was already thinking about how I could best use what I had learned, and why and how I needed to share it with the outside world.
In 1987 when I started working in the prison, I didn’t realize that the United States was becoming the mass incarcerator of the world, or that it was the only democratic industrialized country in the world that had the death penalty.
After decades I knew the statistics, but numbers tend not to affect people. Stories do. That is why I decided to write my memoir, ’30 Years Behind Bars,’ Trials of a Prison Doctor. Books don’t sell themselves though, and I had to rewire my brain and change my skill set. I had to shift from being a physician in a closed environment away from the public, to an author/speaker who had to reach the public and even use social media, which I had stayed away from, for security reasons.
As a physician I have studied why people get old, decrepit and depressed. The major reason is that they don’t have a purpose that refires them and keeps them moving forward. For me, it is holistic prison reform where prevention, healing and support are all crucial. What refires you?