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When I Retire I Will Die

| August 20, 2018

No one young and healthy is ever inclined to say this. It is usually those of us who are painfully aware that anything might happen at any minute that could force us to retire that are the ones worried that this will happen.

This week, I happened across an article that was written back in March about a lady named Iris Apfel. The title of the article is Iris Apfel: 10 life lessons from a 96-year-old who is probably cooler than you. Of course the title got my attention immediately - but the more I read, the more I wanted to read.

There is a line within it that sums up the whole article if you don’t have time to read it: “You only fail if you do not try.” I thought…this is something you hear typically from your parents, teachers, preachers or coach - not from a 96 year old woman. The fact is, she isn’t just any 96 year -old woman. She is 96 going on 30. She seizes every day like it was the first day of her career. So if she does it, why can’t anyone at 65 or 75, or 80 or even 90?

I have to assume that the good Lord has been trying to tell me something this week. Not only did I read about this incredible lady, I also visited my hair dresser. Huh? Well, we got to talking about her grandad, one of the most amazing people I know. He is nearing eighty and has never given up on following his passions. When he retired from a thirty-plus year civil career, he started over as an interview candidate for a local non-profit. I was privileged to be on the hiring committee of the board during this time and was amazed by his energy, ideas, and love for the cause. There wasn’t another candidate that even came close to this seventy-year-old man. I was honored to work with him for several years and he never ceased to amaze! He could do anything: budgets, proposals, public relations, technology(!), marketing, advertising, fund raising, events, and certainly many other tasks I am forgetting. He gave it his all, all the time. The only reason he bowed out years later was that he physically couldn’t hold up to some of the job obligations. But don’t think that stopped him - now he is taking the business world by storm and loving it.

What or who decided that retirement means you’re old? Especially today, retirement means a new chapter, a new adventure, the start of what may be the greatest part of your life. Though sometimes our body doesn’t feel the way, or hold up, the way it once did. Well, Ms. Apfel’ had something to say about that as well:

"When you get older, as I often paraphrase an old family friend, if you have two of anything, chances are one of them is going to hurt when you get up in the morning. But you have to get up and move beyond the pain. If you want to stay young, you have to think young. Having a sense of wonder, a sense of humor, and a sense of curiosity — these are my tonic," she says. 

It’s easy to give in to the effects of increasing age and stay down, but it is much more rewarding to get up and achieve something.

There is one last thing, and it’s a big one. Honestly, I didn’t know what I would write about this week until today. It took Ms. Apfel’s article, a conversation, hearing about a lady who started triathlons at age forty, a church service, and a twenty-seven minute You Tube devotional to finally get it: When you have done something for thirty, forty, or even fifty years, change isn’t easy. Fear is present. This is why people think “I can’t retire. I will start dying.”  But have you ever considered that if you don’t choose to make a change when you start getting that nudge, what you might regret? It may not make sense right now; it may not seem there is a better option, but there is truth in the saying “When one door closes, another opens.” You are still young today. Get going while the gettin’ is good. Fear what you may not get to do rather than what you will do. Do it before your forced to do it. After all, you only get one life—live it on purpose!