An old friend called me yesterday. And by old I mean he’s in his late 80’s. He told me he feels more energetic than he has felt in 20 years!!! When I asked him what’s different he simply said: “My ATTITUDE”.
He and I met years ago when my office in midtown was on the same floor as his. Even back then he was a decade++ past the age of retirement but vowed to never stop working as long as Possible.
At the time, I had just started my own life settlement brokerage firm and it was just me and a part time assistant. His office was adjacent to mine and we slowly got to know each other with cordial nods and casual greetings regarding the weather when we passed each other in the shared hallway. Our mild acquaintance slowly evolved into daily shared coffee breaks and by the time my business was successful and I had hired a staff – which meant no time for coffee breaks – I still managed to visit him and discuss everything from business, politics, religion and life as we know it.
He became a mentor and a confidant to me and was the first to know I was 3 weeks pregnant with child number 2 and the last person I said good night to on my way out.
The one main lesson I learned from him was simple:
He advised me – no TOLD me – to never stop working.
To this day he still shows up for work— rain, shine, summer or snow – every day of the week. He swears it keeps him young.
I have written SO MUCH about the old people here in Florida and the trials and tribulations they cause me to experience in the Publix Parking lot or the road rage on my bike….and it made me think maybe there is a correlation between working until you die and retiring early that makes people’s priorities and focus shift gears.
I know that – YEARS ago- when I was in between (a nice way to say laid off) from my first REAL job back in 1994 when the company I was working for went belly up – (and by belly up I mean the owner left his wife and took his male lover + all the company’s assets and fled to another country- such scandal for a hick like me!) – I had a lot of free time on my hands. I was young, single and irresponsible so I definitely made the BEST of my sunny days off in Central Park. But a girl can only rollerblade so much before she desires more.
Although I didn’t have a husband to NAG back then, after some time I still managed to focus less on the positive and more on the negatives. My unemployed status was different as a 20 year old who faced the unknown of my career conundrum ( this was years before I found my occupational passion and developed my skill set)…. so the UNKNOWN and UNCERTAINTY was heavily weighing on me.
Nonetheless being free to FOCUS on anything and everything all day long can lead to dangerous INTROSPECTION.
The young human mind shouldn’t be allowed that much freedom for reflection.
Luckily, I found my niche soon after that and began a successful career that is constantly evolving. My husband reminds me that I am a WORKAHOLIC – I have two jobs:
My weekday one and my WEEKEND job of Busting his BALLS.
But this experience made me wonder….
Do people who retire have TOO much time on their hands to WORRY about nonsense or have they ALWAYS been nonsensical minded people regardless of their time allotment??? It’s almost like the query about the chicken or the egg….which comes first- the thought provoker or the time consumed worker bee that doesn’t have time to bother with thinking about other things????
So when I am confronted (or accosted) by some of the VERY uptight elders, I have to believe that their attitude is simply spurred by focusing on the wrong things in life. (At least it makes me feel better when I am being pulled over by the sherrif in town for apologizing to someone for being right).
My octogenarian friend summed it up for me yesterday ….
He reminded me that it is ESSENTIAL to Exercise your MIND and your BODY up until….. you CAN’T.
So, LESSON LEARNED:
Even if you don’t have a job, never worked before, or are retired…..the one fundamental rule to stick to is to challenge your brain and body on a daily basis….so that the FOCUS is on the POSITIVE.