There is an old piece of wisdom that there are only two sure things in life; death and taxes. For most of us there is a third sure event and that would be retirement. Webster defines retirement as “withdrawal from work, business, etc. because of age.” When a young person begins working they will make decisions that will one day influence their retirement, but really they don’t think much about it. Retirement is that thing old people do. That is the main thought about retirement.
About 40 years ago, I sat down with an investment representative and made a series of decisions about saving and investing money for my retirement. In my 20s and 30s the thought of retirement was as foreign as the Greek language. But interestingly, as of the end of the day, I now live with a person who is officially retired. Although not an old person, Tracy has crossed the magic Texas Retirement System line of combined service and age and is moving into the world of retirement. And it could not happen to a better person. She has worked very hard and given much of herself to special education children.
But how can this be? A retired person living in my own house?
Then I consider my daily routine. My first stop after leaving home is coffee in Morgan Mill. For the most part, the coffee group is made up of retired people. Later, a group of friends from Tarleton State go to Beans and Franks for coffee. One friend is retired and another talks about retirement almost every day. Tuesday night is Pastafina and of that group five are retired. Tracy and I also meet with a group Friday night at the Agave and half of that group is retired.
Most of our friends and colleagues that aren’t retired are talking about it. Since I have reached the “magic” age I am receiving Social Security benefits and beginning to think about when I might want to retire. Those that I know that are retired seem to really enjoy being retired. I have discovered that regardless of political persuasion, we don’t want those idiots in Washington to mess with those benefits. For me it’s a little like the character played by James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams.” He has been asked by the baseball players to join them in the corn field. He stands at the edge, gradually placing his hand into the corn until he finally has the nerve to walk on in. That is what retirement feels to me. I am getting close to the edge and taking small steps until I step across the threshold. I did join A. A. R. P., however.
As a person passes through this life there are things that you feel happen to others but not to you. Other people have wrecks while texting but that won’t happen to you. Other people get sick from smoking but you won’t. We all pass through periods of invincibility and like other things retirement is one of those things that won’t occur to you.
Tracy will walk into that corn field today and I and others are standing on the edge, developing our courage to take that next step.
Bob Newby is a psychology professor at Tarleton State University who lives in Morgan Mill. He is a member of the E-T's community columnists and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.