My Little World and Yours
It seems that whenever I talk about my job or where I work with others the question comes up. At my age I guess it is inevitable. “When are you going to retire?”, they ask. To be honest I just don’t know and I’m being truthful. An old high school teacher told me a few years ago when I ran into him before a football game, to keep working as long as you enjoy it. That advice has stuck with me. When talking to retired people through the years it isn’t the job that they miss. They always tell me that they miss the people. Retiring has a direct effect on our little world. A part of my little world consists of the people that I see every day. Simply put retiring would change all of that. Sure I could arrange to meet them for lunch now and again, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Maybe that fact and the old teachers advice keep me going. I do enjoy my job and the people I work with and see every day! I do like the fact that I can do something that is needed and other people count on me to do. When work is piling up and it seems I can’t seem to catch up someone will always mention how all that work is job security. Once in awhile I make jokes about job security. When I get back from lunch or a walk down the hall for instance I sometimes find someone sitting in my chair. They might be re-programming my computer or just taking a load off of their feet on a social visit. At these times I might quip how you just leave your desk for a little while and already someone is taking your job! The other day a lady was having trouble with her card that unlocks the door. We all have to swipe our cards to gain access now and hers seemed to not be working. She swiped it three times and nothing happened. I made her burst out laughing when I told her “that’s when you know that you’ve been fired.” Though I might joke about job security the real issue for me is after the job security.
My dad had a hard time with retirement. I’m sure it wasn’t the actual job that he missed but he did miss the people. He had a lot of friends that he worked with through the years. He worked tons of hours and those people that he saw every day became a big part of his life and world. Suddenly after he retired all of those people were gone. Retirement forces people to re-invent their world and some are better at it than others. For some it is not easy to get into their little world. It takes time and effort to be a true friend and a lot of people have closed off their true friend path.
Bill Russell the old time Boston Celtic basketball player once stunned a sports writer who wanted to be his friend. “We cannot be friends”, “Frank,” BilI said, “We can be acquaintances but I can’t give you enough of a commitment to be a your friend. Frank was astonished that someone could define friendship so personally and admired the fact that only a select few could get into Bill’s world. I overheard a conversation the other day as someone mentioned how bad they were at remembering names. She mentioned that she knows she could be so much better but she doesn’t take the time to listen closely when introduced to someone else. The other person quipped that sometimes you have to make the determination if it is worthwhile to remember their names. Maybe if you see them often the effort becomes worthwhile and you try harder. I found it interesting that someone would actually admit the thinking process that we all probably go through.
Through the years I think we all get protective of our little world. We care about our family and friends and sometimes have a hard time letting someone else into our circle. To truly be in that circle not only do they have to know the good side of us but the bad side of us too. It is only then that they can accept us for who we are. In an environment like work it is much easier to get to know someone. You see them every day and after awhile they feel more comfortable around you and vice versa. You begin to develop a closeness to those people and many times they become a part of your true friends.
I played softball for years and those same type of friendships developed. There is something about seeing people consistently and working together as a team that brings people together. They appreciate you for what you can do for the effort and you appreciate them for the same reasons. Last year was the first year in 25 years that I didn’t play softball. Our team was getting older, our bodies started failing, and our desire waned . After all of those years our team broke up. Surprisingly I don’t miss the game that much. It was fun while we played at a high level but the thing most missing these days is not seeing those teammates every week that battled so hard with me.
It seems to me that in retirement we need to build some of those same relationships. Although we don’t see people naturally through work, there are plenty of activities that we can become a part of that will help us meet new people and special friends on the way. The key to doing this is a little word called desire. The old saying, “If it is to be it is up to me” applies.
When I worked with people’s finances the company that I worked for emphasized working in people’s warm markets. Warm markets were defined as people that knew and trusted us. All of us have a limited warm market but the people that we know have other people in their warm market. The company was all about hiring new people and working in their warm markets. This same principle is true in making new friends too. Meeting new people often comes from friendships with people who introduce us to new people in their world. These are people who we will remember their names. Often times we find that we have plenty in common and they let us into their little world. As our new friends start to trust us we can share our faith and enjoy their friendship too! The friendships that we let flourish expands our little world along with our enjoyment of life! So in my mind the real question is not when are you going to retire but are you open to adding friends to your little world? If you are you may retire from a job but you will never retire to the possibilities and enjoyment that life still has to offer!