We were in our late forties when conversation turned to our own mortality and how we expected we might see friends die young.
It wasn’t said callously or with any degree of insouciance because we took it seriously.
Perhaps it was because we had buried some at younger ages when it was absolutely unexpected and unthinkable.
So we wondered if we were doing enough self care and thought about how someone we knew would likely go young. There wasn’t a particular person in mind, just an understanding that life can change.
Only a few days ago I heard about a guy about my age who didn’t wake up after retiring for the evening and then tonight I heard about an old friend from high school who posted news about having just survived a heart attack.
We’re not old men to anyone but our kids and even then I think they understand we are still quite young but apparently we have reached that place where some health issues take on greater significance.
Can’t speak for all of the boys, but I know I have become far more cognizant of both big and little things.
Far more aware of the clock.
Retirement Is Too Late
During the middle of a Sunday afternoon Zoom call I listen to friends who retired a few years back and moved to Spain talk about how restrictions are being lifted.
They’re referring to the Covid19 challenges and focus on their town because not all of Spain has reached the stage they are at.
I am happy for them and even though they never had kids recognize they put in long hours to retire early both having done so before they turned 50.
We go back almost 40 years so I really have seen large parts of their journey but what catches my eye/ear today isn’t any one thing.
It is the knowledge that our expiration dates are generally unknown. We have tools and resources we can draw upon to make guesses about when we lose our fight with the Grim Reaper but those aren’t guarantees.
They are guesses and whether educated guesses or not they only provide estimates. Things happen that can lengthen or shorten the string.
So all this does is convince me that I cannot wait until I retire to do certain things. I have to make arrangements to try to make them happen sooner.
Active participation in life is required.
I would rather fail than fail to try.
My can’t wait until she gets her drivers license teenage girl and I are ought driving around the neighborhood.
She is talking about plans to become a doctor and what it will take to get into med school and I am actively supporting her while simultaneously reminding her that plans can be changed.
“Don’t feel like you are locked into a single dream or way of doing things. Don’t feel like you can’t shift gears if your interest change or want to adjust your focus.
There is no set schedule. You have time to dream and explore.”
I see her nod her head and tell her life is changing in front of us and that what happens now might have a big impact on what direction she wants to go in.
Later on I’ll have a similar conversation with her brother and talk about some of the changes I have seen during my career.
I have worked remotely for most of the last ten years so the kids only kind of remember the days when I was office bound daily.
They laugh sometimes when I tell them about the earlier days when I had to wear a suit or sport coat and tie to work.
Ties are an occasional part of my professional attire but they haven’t been a regular feature in about twenty or so years.
Which reminds me of how dad wore a tie for the majority of his career. I think towards the end of it business casual caught up with his office, but I rarely picture him at the office in anything but a tie.
So here I sit, at a dining room table in a city in Texas that I never expected to live in at a job 18 year-old me wouldn’t have imagined doing.
That kid would be surprised not only by the job but by how much I enjoy it. But that is part of the joy of the journey, you never do know what can happen.
Which all ties back into why I am focused upon the blueprints of my life and making adjustments here and there because the days of putting everything off have to be behind me.
Still got time, but the window is narrower so my focus on wants and needs has to adjust too.