Mary Corning retirement from identity

Retirement from Identity

There’s a great saying…
If you are what you do, then if you don’t, you aren’t.
For the identity, to retire is to expire.
The transition from years of service, into simply being can create a great deal of havoc in the mind. It takes Grace to flow naturally from doing to undoing.
When we live our lives through the identification of what we do, then as we don’t (physically, emotionally, or intellectually) “do” these things we can feel lost. We can feel that our life loses purpose and meaning.
I have many conversations with people as they transition out of the dependency on their body and mind. They learn to surrender. It is best that we learn this before we need to learn this. And this is just one benefit of what we call “Dying to self”.
Tom Dorrance said “The last thing you learn is the first thing you need.” Tom was a wise and gifted man who knew the value of being early. To be early is to learn before we apply. Often humans put off absorbing wisdom until pain creates the necessity for it. But sadly, by then, learning can be a struggle.
There is great wisdom in the message “Die before you die”.
When we release our identity, we release the dependency on doing what we’ve always done. And although it’s one of the easiest things to do, it’s also one of the hardest to accept.
Seeing life from an open and free objective is a fabulous practice. We can learn to detach from the identification of our mind and body.
For many, retirement is a forced curriculum. Retirement can be liberating or frightening depending on our level of realization about our true nature. It is vital that we come to see who we truly are, behind the veils of life.
The image we see in the mirror is in constant flux. It is not an accurate interpretation of our life. I feel the celestial gem, is that we can realize that the mirror’s reflection is simply a projected image. What is most grossly overlooked is the one who is seeing the image.
We are the one within, who witnesses the constant flux, the one who sees the ever-changing flow. That one is changeless. That one is reliable. That one has always been there to witness the reflection.
Horses too experience a shift in their world in retirement. Although they don’t have the identification with accomplishment as we do. Many absolutely love to learn and feel exhilaration in their accomplishment. Just like humans, some horses are much more geared towards performance. My horse Far Go is that horse.
Far Go is the head of the herd and has been my riding horse for the last 25 years. He is now in full retirement. I watch as he transitions his life into a more simple and definitely less animated existence.
I consciously clear my mind as I watch this. This is one opportunity not to anthropomorphize. As I’ve always said, the horses are my mirror.
I have a strong identification with the life that Far Go and I have lived. All the trail rides and clinics, vacations, lessons and storms that we have ridden through created what I call the “Third entity“.
The Third entity is not really any more real than our personal identification. Although it does take on a certain flare of palatable sensation.
The Third Entity is the identification of the joined influence of seemingly separate sources.
It is every bit as unique as individuals. For instance, the partnership between a person and a horse is unique to that partnership. If you replace either the horse or the person, it is no longer the same relationship. It is completely different. But, all of this is observed in the mind, in sensations, emotions, and in the experience of the interactions.
No wonder folks become unaware of all these identities. They shape-shift from one experience to another.
So in order to keep it simple and reliable we must go to the source. We can see (and live) life from the “One” who watches it all play out. I feel this is the most important work of a lifetime.
Far Go may feel and sensate certain changes in his body and his lifestyle but he does not rely on it for his life to be complete. He is, by nature “complete”.
Now is my chance to transition with him, to find new ways of bonding, to let go of what we have always done that “brought us close”. The idea that what we did brought us together is a lie I told myself. We are joined by nature. The doings are the effects of the closeness.
It is only in the mind and body that retirement comes. Our hearts are changeless. The horses have taught me that even in (and beyond) death.
Our source is One.
When my wild horse Concho, died, Far Go and I both grieved. Concho was Far Go’s absolute hero. He had taught Far Go everything about life. I could see Far Go was handling his grief much better than I. So I asked him for guidance. He conveyed “You are letting go of much more than I am.” I knew what he meant. And I have never forgotten it.
Letting go of the dependency on our doings is not letting go of life. In fact it is the exact opposite. This practice introduces us to what’s real and everlasting. It prepares us for everything we need to know. It offers freedom while we live.
We still do life. In fact we do it much better when we find the infinite behind the changeful. And in this… we are truly home.


If these words resonate with you, please consider reading my book Perfect Practice. You can also read an excerpt from the book HERE.

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