Monday, October 10, 2011

I don't plan to retire


It might have been a coincidence – perhaps not – but I was asked a question this past week as I was reading chapter 6 of Mindfulness by Ellen Langer, entitled “Mindful Aging.” And the question, by a friend, was this: “Have you thought about what you’re going to do when you retire?”

I’m of an age when that question is not unusual. At work, there are two of us about the same age, and then there’s a gap of some years, and then one person 10 years younger and then several 20 years younger. And then all those 20-somethings, many of whom I helped to hire.

My answer to the question: “I don’t plan to retire.”

Now there may come a time when I “retire” from where I officially work. But I don't plan to “retire.” I see it simply as a new phase of what I’ll be doing in life, assuming health and physical condition cooperate.

Retirement, for me, won’t be about the pursuit of “leisure.” I can’t imagine myself living from golf game to golf game (I don’t play golf), nor can I imagine myself in some retirement community in Arizona, going shirtless to the grocery store.

But it will be about the pursuit of something, but not leisure.

And it won’t be about surrounding myself with grandchildren. (Note that I use the plural; Cameron is going to become a brother next May.) I dearly love my grandson and grandchild to come, but they won’t be around me all the time. And that’s as it should be. They, and their parents, have their own lives to live. I can love and influence and be there when needed – but I can’t dominate and I can’t direct.

I do know some of what I’ll be doing.

I have a desire to get more involved in missions, a desire that’s been quietly growing since I did a short-term missions trip in 2002 to Eastern Europe. The desire is not to become a missionary in a foreign land, but simply to become more involved. That’s all I understand for now.

And I will be writing. Writing has been a part of my life since I was about 9, and it always will be, as long as I can hold a pen, press a letter on a computer keyboard, or speak into a microphone or video camera.

Most of my writing has been in corporate communications – speeches, articles, papers, news releases, reports, and now tweets and Facebook posts. But that has been changing, and it will continue to change.

A novel manuscript I’ve been working on for five years has caught the interest of a small, new publisher. It’s now been edited by an extraordinarily gifted editor and published author. The draft contract in sitting in my email box, and it seems fair and reasonable (although I’m asking my attorney to look it over). Given how fast this can happen today, it may be published by the end of this year.

It’s not serious or literary fiction. It’s a story, one that had been bottled up inside me for three years before I wrote the first word. It started on a airline flight to San Francisco, when I was listening to one of those music channels and heard a song called “Luna Rosa” (sung in Italian). The song evoked an image in my mind – a priest dancing on a beach at sunset. It was an image that wouldn’t let go. The beach is gone, and so is the sunset but the image of the dancing priest remains and lies at the center of the manuscript.

What I’ve learned is that publishing this manuscript, while gratifying and exciting, is not the point. The writing, the telling of the story, is the point.

So, no, I don’t intend to retire. I intend to “mindfully age,” as Langer describes in her book.

I still have too many stories I’m supposed to tell.


Over at The High Calling, Laura Boggess has been leading a discussion of Mindfulness. To see more posts on this chapter, please visit The High Calling.

19 comments:

shrinkingthecamel.com said...

Mindfully age. Me too. So much of this rings in my mind too, Glynn. I have 15 years, but it is coming, and I am getting ready.

So excited about your novel! That is definitely going to be your second life.

Patricia said...

Love this discussion. Before RA recently "benched" me for a season, once a week I helped a disabled elderly friend get a shower and with a few simple chores around her house. During that time, for four years she's been telling me wonderful stories of growing up as an army brat and then raising a family of six children. I've been trying to convince her to write them down. Finally, her children gave her a laptop for her birthday and she is now putting all those stories down on paper. I'm so proud of her.

Bill (cycleguy) said...

This post really zinged me. i am a pastor with no retirement (a small 403b at this point) so I am unable to retire. I have this saying I tell people, "I want to die with my boots on." I don't play golf. I have no desire to lay around playing checkers or shuffleboard. I do hope that I am still cycling (albeit slower probably). I want to still preach or work in a church mentoring young men. Retire? Nope.

H. Gillham said...

1. congratulations on your news of a sibling for cam -- :)

2. having a story you want to share is awesome -- you've proven yourself already a story teller

3. your "shirtless at the grocery" cracked me up -- :)

Corinne said...

Oh glynn... shirtless at the grocery store! :) I'm going to wake up my snoozing hubby by laughing so hard!
All of your news... congratulations. I admire your perspective on life, the journey.

Mary said...

I like the idea of 'mindfully aging.' I am one who is 'officially' retired; but I will say that I have lacked for interesting things to do! Good luck with your story.

Laura said...

Shirtless at the grocery store got me too :).

So much here, Glynn! First, congrats on the new grandchild on the way! Cameron is going to be such a great big brother. And I can't wait to read you Luna Rosa. The part you put up here a while back made me want more. So excited for you in this endeavor!

You inspire me the way Helen does. I want to keep growing until the very end.

David Rupert said...

I look forward to the book.
I never understood those who retire into...nothingness.

For the children of God, we are finally free from work and maybe have a little more time and money to do some good.

Megan Willome said...

Oh, Glynn. I'm so happy for you! Please keep us posted. Although you've been writing for a long time, I think you're in a time of new birth. Can't wait to see more.

JofIndia said...

Retirement is often quite different to what we might have imagined.
But it's fun, and the joy of being released from some aspects of work is beyond belief!

Lisa notes... said...

I love your mindset, Glynn. You're on the right track already to age mindfully. You'll be a blessing in whatever area God sends you.

And best wishes on your book! How exciting.

Kathleen Overby said...

Tell me when to pre-order. Can't wait to read your story, especially with the graphic in mind.

Maureen said...

Delighted by all your news here, Glynn.

I didn't plan on retiring either, and haven't.

Cris Ferreira said...

Glynn, thinking about my retirement made me realize that I wasn't happy with my job. So I decided to change my life and do now what I was waiting retirement for.
As a Christian, I think of retirement as more time to do God's will. I don't dream of living by a beach and collecting shelves, if you know what I mean...

Michael Dodaro said...

I'll be looking for that novel. A story about a dancing Italian priest is something you might send to Angela Alaimo O'Donnell for review.

S. Etole said...

Looking forward to your dancing priest.

Blessings as you await the new grandchild.

nance marie said...

i have this picture in my mind that won't leave. i guess i should write a novel about a writer in arizona that is always going shirtless to the grocery store. the people at the store like his stories so much that they keep a shirt handy so that he can come in a shop for more pens, paper and an apple or two.

Charity Singleton said...

Glynn - Yes, keep telling your stories, keep writing your poems, keep encouraging and being encouraged. What great news about the novel. I can't wait to read it.

Patricia said...

Just the other day, I wondered if you had a book in the hopper. I'm so glad.
I will consider temporary efforts to re-tread... but I will never retire. I have already been there... worked as an activity director in a retirement center. The thing is, our generation has this HUGE advantage with having learned technology that will ultimately keep us connected, mentally stimulated, and busy regardless of any physical limitations that come our way... God willing I keep my mind, of course.