My buddy Jim is retiring next week. He will be pretty much the first one of my close friends to lay down the burdens of honest toil-if you refer to practicing law in that fashion-in exchange for a pension. Rick claims to be semi-retired. But as far as I can tell he is working as much as he ever did. Phil has no plans along those lines and Richard-who has to be 72 if he is a day-will be carried out of the US Attorney's office here in a pine box. And Pat's girls are still teenagers. He will be at it awhile longer.
Jim and Gaynelle have put the house up for sale. They are moving to another town to be closer to her people. He plans to go to work in private practice.
But the truth of the matter is that he has no idea what will happen until it happens. He doesn't know that yet despite my warnings. Of course, I didn't know it either despite the warnings from my financial advisor either.
Retirement is a really good place to be. But it is a real change. You don't just quit doing something you have done everyday for 30 years without it affecting you. I have likened it to a divorce that everybody agrees is the best thing for all concerned. But a door closes on 30 years of your life and how you largely defined it. And it's heavy.
It took me awhile to get adjusted. I had defined myself almost completely by my work. And because I was able to retire so young there was nobody in my age group to hang with. I wasn't retired more than 4 months when I was offered a consulting type job with a local consumer protection agency. I took it. The relief I felt at putting on clothes and having somewhere to go 2-3 times a week was downright palpable.
Maybe it will be different for Jim. After all, he has Gaynelle. He has a plan. I had neither. All I had was an offer from Uncle to leave early without penalty by a brief time certain. There was no planning other than making sure that the numbers worked.
Quite frankly, I struggled at first. And I struggled for at least a year. Maybe two. I can't imagine that Jim won't feel some of that as well. After all, he is doing three major life stressors at once-retirement, moving and starting a new job. Unless you are a sociopath-which he is not-one would have to view this as a stressful marker along life's path. He's a smart guy. He will figure it out. But nothing is ever like you think it is going to be going into it. He's got to live it.
As for me, everything is pretty cool. I enjoy spending my mornings out on the deck or taking a walk. The days which seemed so empty get filled up pretty quickly now. I practice law a little bit. I play golf. I work out. I write. I play music. I read. I substitute-teach, which I love. All is well.
And I'm with somebody now. I stumbled into her when I wasn't looking. I'm a pretty tough guy and I am comfortable both in my own skin and with being by myself.
But things are better now. It's good to have backup. It's good to have a purpose. It has been too long.
Jim told me to bring a bottle of his favorite whisky for his retirement present. Which is more than he brought me as I recall. I can do that. I'm a better man than he is.
I resigned from my little consulting gig a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed my tenure there. But it was time.
And while I will probably work again, I no longer define myself solely along those lines. I have a different purpose now.
Like I said, Jim will figure it out.
As for me, all is well.
All is well. This sure beats workin'.