I’ve been thinking a lot about retirement lately. I’m fifty-five years old and ready to retire. I’ve worked hard and at least half of my adult life worked more than one job at a time. My children are raised; I’ve accomplished a lot of my lifetime goals, and done most everything on my bucket list. I’m a pretty blessed guy.
The truth is though, that I will probably never retire…at least not in the traditional sense. There will probably never be a time when I don’t have to work. The days of clocking out for the last time when you’re sixty-two and going fishing everyday are days long gone for most of us.
I’ve thought a lot about it. I probably made some bad decisions along the way, like doing the thing with my life that I felt called to do even though it didn’t pay a lot of financial dividends or fund my retirement. Then there were all those family vacations we took. We went camping and visited places like Niagara Falls and drove to Oklahoma to see the relatives. And I guess we could have done without the clothes for the kids and all those annoying doctor visits and extracurricular activities like show choir and football. That would have saved a couple o’ grand. Actually not having kids at all would have saved a bunch. Come to think of it, my wife has probably singlehandedly spent what would have been a pretty nice nest egg. Yep, I’ll bet if I’d have worked a nice factory job, never gotten married, not had children, and eaten a lot less, I could have already retired. Darn it!
Then I could have…let’s see…I could’ve…? Not worked, yeah that’s it…not worked.
Of course, I also wouldn’t have been able to spend my mature years with my equally mature wife, nor had the joy of seeing my children become productive, fulfilled adults. I would never have held my grandson in my arms or made any memories worth remembering. I would have missed the feeling of pressing your lips against someone else’s and knowing that they care for you as much as you care for them. I would have missed making an impression on those around me and would have never heard the words, “if it hadn’t been for you…” I would have missed so much that can’t be assigned a fair market value and would have spent my later years envying those who invested time and money making memories at Disneyland and the Hard Rock Café.
Barring the death and the generous will of a rich relative I don’t know I have, I’ll not die a wealthy man. I’ll most likely work at something until I pass or at least until I simply can’t work anymore. I will probably expire without much money, but I will be rich. I’ll be rich because of the relationships God has allowed me to have. Rich because of the influence I have been able to have on others’ lives. Rich because I will undoubtedly be surrounded by those I’ve loved and who have loved me.
I may never retire, but I will rest knowing that this life has simply been a prelude to eternity. Perhaps I’ll be retired in heaven or maybe not. But whatever the case, no money in an IRA or amount of time “sittin’ on the dock of the bay” could ever replace what a life well “spent” can accomplish.