There’s nothing like retirement, unless you’re on a team that has just been retired at a crucial moment in a big league baseball game. Or you’re retiring from the occupation you’ve loved for so many years. Sports and media personalities come to mind.
Brett Favre could never find the right way to retire because he loved the game of football too much to ever want to. And now, quietly fading into obscurity, he’ll probably end up along some Louisiana roadside trying to impress tourists by spiraling footballs into the jaws of alligators.
Andy Rooney retired this past weekend at the age of 92 after having the final word on 60 Minutes for over 33 years and wishing he could have done it forever. Imagine viewers five-hundred years from now telling that guy on the hologram to stop overthinking the benefits of the latest modern convenience.
Unlike Brett and Andy, I’ve known a few people who’ve retired over the years, and I’m pretty sure every one of them was glad to be leaving the workforce. I’ve no doubt my dad was rejoicing internally when he finally reached his combined years of age and service so that he could stop fiddling around in everyone’s shit. Yeah, that’s right. I mean literally. He worked 30 years for the area’s sanitary system, dealing with raw sewage, climbing down into the inner workings and sometimes coming home with his clothes smelling of the remains of everyones’ day.
My friend’s dad spent decades delivering the mail, first on foot and then by vehicle, before finally retiring on a pension that probably would have left him wondering what it was all for if not for the fact that he had his two sons’ best interest in mind the entire journey. No doubt the receipt of his pension check was the one thing he never detested about the postal service.
My wife’s dad retired this past year as a design engineer for a large heavy equipment outfit. From conversations he and I shared, I have the impression there was a time when he actually enjoyed his job. But I imagine a combination of things finally made it easy for him to bid farewell to The Man. Now his time is his own.
I’ve tried to imagine what it would be like to have all my time to myself. I see sunny days filled with golfing, reading and writing. Strolls with my wife and afternoon naps. Ah, yes. A good, long rest. But I sense there will be something missing, some endeavor that gives meaning to the present. After all, wouldn’t spending one’s twilight years languishing be viewed as time wasted?
There are times I look forward to retiring. But when I really think about it, I begin to calculate the years that will have been subtracted by then. Those are the years I need to concentrate on and give meaning to. Life is like a baseball season. You have all season to make your mark and the entire off-season for what-ifs. Of course in life there’s no spring training to look forward to.
I know. I know. Lighten up, Francis. Hey! If I could, I would.