Following the release of my new book, “Tim’s Senior Moments,” interviewers asked what compelled me to write it. As I mentioned in the introduction of the book, I discovered people tend to treat you differently the moment you reach the magical age of sixty, the Big 6-0. Younger people think you are through with the productive part of your life and are just phasing into retirement. It’s like, “Hey Big Guy, here is your cookie, just sit there in the corner and we’ll take it from here.” And it gets worse with every passing year. I’m sorry, but I still have quite a few dances left on my card and I am not ready to give up yet. That’s why I particularly enjoyed Jack Palance’s acceptance speech at the 1992 Oscars, followed by his one-handed push-ups on the stage.
My old friend Chris Payne, who drew the cover of the book, made the following observation years ago, “Guys like us always have to keep doing something; with you, it’s writing; with me, it’s drawing. If you were to force us to quit, you might as well take a gun out and shoot us dead, as our lives are tied to what we do. It is an intricate part of us, something we have always loved to do.”
Chris is right, and as long as someone enjoys our work, we will persevere. In other words, you can take that cookie and…
Some people are embarrassed about growing old (like we can control it, right?), others recognize the change and role with the punches. While we might not be as physically agile or strong as we once were, we’re certainly smarter thanks to experience and the naivety of youth. Instead of picking up and moving that refrigerator like I used to, now I say, “Hmm, let me think about that for a moment,” and come up with a less strenuous way of moving the object. So, Yes, we get smarter, or is it guile?
I know seniors who would love to play golf everyday if they could. Not me. I was never too fond of it, and don’t look for me on the shuffleboard courts or in basket-weaving classes either. I simply like to meet people, attend meetings, and find out what is going on this crazy world of ours. If I lose my spark, I hope somebody will put me down quietly. Maybe a Viking funeral.
This is why when I hear a High School classmate proudly say to me, “Hey Tim, guess what, I’m retiring and moving to Florida (or Arizona).” Naturally, they expect me to say how happy I was for them, but instead, I say, “Oh, I am so sorry for you.” These are people who obviously hated their jobs and couldn’t wait to move along.
I have found retirement is like a race where people are competing for bragging rites as to who did it first. I have seen several friends rush into retirement, only to become bored out of their minds, and eventually go back to work in some capacity.
The other thing I mention to interviewers is that as you transfer to the senior ranks, your problems and concerns do not dissipate and go away, they just go through a metamorphosis. Let me give you an example. As we begin our professional careers and start a family, we are concerned about the development of our offspring. As years go by, and our children leave the nest, we honestly believe things will slow down and we can start to smell the roses. Wow, was I wrong. You discover you now have to look after your parents or perhaps an aunt or uncle. Next, along comes grandchildren to babysit and entertain, and of course your spouse. In other words, your concern and responsibilities shift from one group to another. This, of course, assumes you are not a deadbeat and willing to assume responsibility. In fact, the only time you are not taking care of someone is until the end, when you are trying to take care of yourself.
As you become a senior, your priorities begin to shift to figure a way out of this life with as few a complications as possible. Your mantra becomes, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” You find yourself downsizing to smaller living quarters and disposing of the tons of junk you managed to accumulate over the years. As I often remind people, everything you own, be it valuables, automobiles, houses, and all the other bric a brac you possess, must all eventually end up in the junk yardsome day, like it or not.
So, while my friends line up for shuffleboard or golf, I would like to learn the tango instead, as it looks much more interesting. But in the end, I’ll settle for doing more interviews and lectures on aging. Call me.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.