Geez, it’s already October! I don’t mean on the calendar, I’m talking about my life! So, what are you doing with the rest of yours? In addition to several other fortune cookie quotes, Confucius is purported to have said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. It’s a terrific thought, if you’re one of the lucky few that enjoys a passion for their work. But what about everyone else? The truth is that most people are stuck in jobs, or even worse in careers, that they either don’t really care about or can’t wait to get out of and retire. My question is — then what?
A few people I know have expressed a desire to catch up on their reading. You mean we have a quota? A few more want to “putter around the garden” and, oh yes, then there’s the guy who was a teacher for forty years in the same school – thirty of those years in the same classroom! His amibition for retirement? To be that old geezer who shuffles off to fetch your car at the rent-a-car place. The way he figures it, he can drive some pretty cool cars that way. I wonder what he’ll do on the second day.
My own concept of retirement has always been to do something I really love without having to worry about being successful or making money at it — just do it on my own terms. The only problem is, I’ve been working at what I love for the past twenty-five years and I was getting paid for it. That’s a hard habit to break! I frequently grew tired from my job but never tired of it.
If Confucius was right, then I haven’t worked in a pretty long time — no wonder I’m not ready to stop! But, ready or not, I’m trying to accept the beginnings of an involuntary retirement the rest of the world seems determined to inflict upon me. After you reach a certain age, it’s as though younger people are reluctant to deal with you for fear they’ll get stuck in a wrinkle or slip on one of your gray hairs.
Prospecting for business during the past few years often bought me a look like I had one of those big red pimples at the end of my nose. You know, the kind that used to bloom when you were a kid, just before the big dance or going to the drive-in with Little Patti Passion. Any thought process was clearly, “What kind of fresh ideas can this old curmudgeon have, anyway?” This bit of brilliance from someone who is still learning to read his diploma. By the way, the answer to that would be, “More ideas, fresher concepts and all of them better executed than ever before” — but that’ll get you a look like you have spinach between your teeth in addition to the zit.
Not working has to be the same sensation a hamster feels while running on his wheel, and even worse, Vigi is still gainfully employed. Any guy raised in the same generation as I will understand the self-inflicted guilt over that situation. When I grew up, if guys weren’t the only bread winners they were, at least, the main bread winners. Being a guy was all about bringing home the bacon — or as a friend of mine says, “Putting pork on the fork”. I’m still trying to figure out what comes after the pig products. One thing I know for certain is that reading, puttering or shuffling off after a rent-a-car is not the answer. I can’t just draw a line in the sand and say, “My useful life is back there”.
Recently, I was talking with someone who has made a smooth and highly successful transition into retirement. He offered a simple philosophy that provides a great place to start, whenever you contemplate hanging up your rock ‘n roll shoes for good. He said, “Every day should be Saturday”! Of course, you need to understand that this fellow has just about every great guy toy a grown up kid can think of and still have time to sleep.
Knowing his definition of Saturday, I think I’ll have to plead poverty and settle for Sunday instead — but the philosophy is still the same. Besides, in addition to being more affordable, on Sunday I get to watch football!
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