Glen, my co-worker, was a big guy. Strong
as a bull and built like a brick wall. He came home late for supper one night.
Work was seven miles straight down a mountain from his house. It was winter and
cold. This was in Alaska.
His wife asked him, “Glen, where’s your truck?” He shook his head and said that
he didn’t know. He had walked home. He had left his truck in the parking lot at
work; walked home on ice, and snow, in the dark. Stocking cap pulled low;
collar up. It’s a long walk. Three months later he was dead. He was thirty-nine
This is Del Lowery with, “Retirement –
the Rest of My Life”. The question we want to look at in program is, “When do I
taught physical education and was a
living example to his students of living a healthy, strong life. And
without warning; no prevention; no rhyme, or reason: brain tumor. Glen
got a chance to retire. Of course, things like this happen all the
time. Lots of people put off retirement. Lots of people put off
retirement until it's too late.
is not the only example I could
give that illustrates the unpredictable nature of life and death. Most
could probably share a similar story. It’s not that unusual. The
point is that many of us live as if we don't know we are going to die.
We get a job, go to work, and work until we drop in the traces. We work
like we don't really believe we are going to die. We work like we think
we are going to live forever. This can be a tragic mistake.
Work is the means by which we provide
food, clothing and shelter to us and our families. We have to work but, and
this is a big but, but sometimes we work for other reasons.
Years ago I taught philosophy for a long
time. Some might say too long; much too long. Be that as it may, I found then,
and I find now, that I am always asking myself the same questions. “What am I
doing with my life? What could I do with my life?” I think most people are this
way. However, sometimes I wonder.
“The unexamined life is not worth
living,” is a quote attributed to Socrates. Some consider this the beginning of
Western philosophical inquiry. This statement of Socrates is always discussed
in the open sessions of introductory philosophy classes. When it comes to work
- and retirement - and death, I sometimes wonder just how closely people are
examining their lives. Judging by their actions, it appears that many people
rarely consider what they are doing with their life.
Nineteen years ago, my employer, the
state of Alaska,
offered me an early retirement option. This was in the mid 80’s and the oil
boom was over. People were leaving the state of Alaska. They needed to cut back on staff. At
the ripe old age of 44, I was one of the “older” teachers and they wanted to
get rid of people like me.
Now, I was one of those people who
claimed to have “loved” their job. I really did love it, or so I thought.
During my early years of teaching, I just hated it when the school term ended.
The kids would leave and I would be left standing in an empty hallway wishing I
could just teach continuously. But, by the time I turned 44, Glen had died. I
knew of others that had met similar ends. Teaching philosophy had made me very
aware of “examining one’s life”. I knew that my days were numbered – and I knew
there was another big world out there of which I knew very little.
to this point in my life, my life
experience had probably been very similar to many of you. I played,
school and worked under the direction of one boss or another. I had
“free” to direct and supervise my daily life as I saw fit.
At the ripe old age of 44, I found myself with the option of escaping
all of the supervision and direction I had lived with my entire life. A
chance to experience something I had never yet in life experienced:
retirement, or, as I look at it - freedom.
I know a lot of people who retire and
then started working at something else almost immediately. That was not what we
had in mind. We wanted to experience something other than work.
What did we do with our freedom? What
could you do with your freedom? What have others done with theirs? We will
discuss that in our next show entitled, “What now”.
In the meantime, sit down with a pencil
and paper – or a computer nowadays, and make yourself a list. What more
material wealth do you need or want? Draw a bottom line. What more do you want
out of life that cannot be provided under the direction or supervision of
others? Examine your own life and ask yourself if work is still for you, or if
retirement is possible and something you would really like to try. Perhaps,
just perhaps, now is the perfect time.
This is Retirement Talk.
For an audio podcast of this go to: http://retirementtalk.org/rt001.mp3