Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Tue 11/23/2004 3:29 AM
Random Thought: Why Do I Have To Wait?

"When I retire, I will _____________(fill in the blank with something joyful)." If you read the newspapers, with companies going bankrupt and government taking over corporate pension funds, retirement doesn't appear to be so much of a guaranteed guarantee, appealing prospect, or blissful promise as it once was, even if you were a high level manager.

But, why does finding my bliss have to be something in the blessed future?

What got me to thinking about this issue was a brief conversation I had yesterday in the local hospital's outpatient waiting room as I waited to do the pre-op paperwork for my biopsy.

"You still out at the university?"


"How many years have you been there?"

"Thirty-seven plus sick leave time."

"You're about at the point to retire, aren't you?"

"I can any time I want."

"You going to?"

"No. They'll have to carry me out if I have my way."

"Why don't you retire?"

"I'm having fun. I wake up with a 'yes' every morning looking forward to going into class. Why do I stop doing something that I'm happy doing and where I can make a big difference?"

"That's good," this person sighed. "That's important. Really important. Going to the garage became a chore, a real heavy chore, for me. It had no purpose for me except being just check getting work."

I can't tell you how many times I had similar conversations week after week. When anyone asks me if I am retired or when am I planning to retire or if I know that I'm "losing money" still teaching, it gets me to wonder about those supposed wonder years marketed in the slick retirement community brochures and all those solving "golden years," "the creative age," and "101 Ways to...." books. It gets me to wonder about all those people who so look forward to retirement that they overlook today.

This is how I look at it. There's a lot of attitude, attitude, attitude in my attitude.

Why do I have to wait to retire for a life of meaning, personal growth, and spiritual development? Why can't I find them in a life of teaching?

Why should retirement be the best years of my life? Why isn't now the best years of my life?

Why should I focus on retirement benefits when the real benefits are in today's class?

Why should I wait for my retirement years to experience, as one book puts it, my "creative years" and the time when I awakened my "human potential?"

Why do I have to wait for the retirement years to be imaginative, creative, productive, and making a difference?

Why is the journey liberating and enriching only after retirement?

Why do I have to endure a sighful "ah me" until I retire to an excited "oh, boy?"

Why is the good life and a life of goodness something to look forward to rather than something lived right now?

Why do I have to retire in order to take time for the things that enrich my inner life?

My answer? I don't. I don't because I don't choose it to be. It's so much, almost all, attitude, attitude, attitude. This, today, is when I choose to feel purpose and meaning. This, today, is when I choose to be filled with fulfillment, happiness, and contentment. This, today, is when I choose to spin gold. This, today, is when I choose to experience my creative age. This, today, is when I choose to be adventurous. This, today, is when I choose to stretch myself, when I choose to have a good stretch, choose to become more. This, today, is when I choose to be awake to my potential. This, today, is when I choose to make a difference. All this choice makes the difference. This, today, is when, as Joseph Campbell might have said, I choose to follow my bliss.

Before I forget. Let me take this opportunity to wish all my American friends a most joyous and festive and sumptuous Thanksgiving. And, as you are about to go into a food coma from a caloric overdose, please remember: don't eat and drive.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
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                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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