A Teething ThingPosted by Fred
As you tread the long road between first tooth and last, you stumble into some things that most of us are never really ready to do … you just do them and work out the consequences along the way. Getting married, having kids or buying a house are a few of the ‘just do it’ things that leap to mind. If you examine them too closely or too logically, you’ll end up lonely, childless and renting a one room flat where the bed folds out of the wall, because you won’t do any of them. I believe retirement ranks high on that list.
My concept of retirement was to be able to do all the things I’ve always wanted, without worrying about being successful at them or having to impress anyone. That included working at my own pace, not someone else’s. I’m amazed at how many of my friends are working longer and harder in retirement, ‘gratis’, than back when they were collecting a pretty decent paycheck for their labor!
My friend Bob volunteered for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, became some sort of high-ranking VIP and works twice the number of hours he did when he was teaching. Bill maintains a military museum and gives motivational speeches. He used to be a Bank Veep. After an illustrious career with the Navy Department, my cousin Dale returned to his Alma Mater to do mentoring … among the many other activities he has dug his teeth into at The University. There are more, including some of Vigi’s girlfriends, but I’d rather not cause your eyes to glaze over.
The problem is, how do you know if you’re retired? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Like most people, these three guys had an advantage … there was a line of demarcation between career and retirement. It may have been a party, a bonus, a gold watch or just the physical change of scene from wherever they were to where they are now. Whatever the farewell, one day they left, got up the next morning and their lives were clearly different. Neither my friend Dick nor I are that lucky.
I don’t think either of us ever meant to retire. For me, it just sort of happened. Dick? Well, he’s still working despite being my senior by a few years. I’m not sure whether he’s afraid of making the transition or of not having enough resources once he hangs up his Rock ‘n Roll shoes. As far as those almighty ‘bucks’ go, I’m sure even Donald Trump won’t feel he has enough when his time comes. It’s all relative.
Like myself, Dick was in radio and when no one needed a couple of savvy old dudes anymore, he started his own radio-related business, primarily working out of the house, also like myself. This meant we were already spending copious amounts of time at work, within the same four walls, among the same electronic debris where we’d spend our retirement! Since he still has his shoulder to the wheel, he has yet to experience the mental turmoil that I did … in fact, that I’m still facing. Good luck Dick!
There were no fanfares, no parties, no ceremonies … just fewer clients and a diminishing income, as I quietly osmosed into a retired-like state over a period of several years. My only recollection of any line of demarcation was the sound of my last patron slamming down the phone, refusing to pay the amount of my invoice for a rush commercial I had stayed up all night to finish. He’s not on the radio anymore, either.
About a month ago, I was verifying my employment status to a small girl wielding a large stack of forms, and she asked, “Still work for Mediacorp Productions?” From out of nowhere I heard someone say, “Not anymore, I’m retired.” Darting a glance or two around the room, I suddenly realized it was me. That was the first time I ever said it out loud. Geez, what a creepy feeling! I always figured, someday, someone would just find me slumped over a microphone at some radio station in Topeka or someplace.
So, is retirement something you’re ever really ready to do? If you don’t like what you’ve been doing, it’s probably a no brainer. If you love your work, it gets a bit more complicated, and sometimes you don’t even get to make the call. I guess, in the final analysis, it’s something very personal … and the only important thing is that on the long road between first tooth and last, you simply keep moving!
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