Only five months into retirement, I am no expert on the subject. In fact, when you only do something once, you are bound to make mistakes. Metaphorically, the pavement ended. I was moving into very unfamiliar territory. Other people have traveled there, but it was all strange to me.
When Sally, Julie and I moved into our new home about ten years ago, we bought four Rubber Maid storage units, tall cabinets where you keep fertilizer, tools, Christmas ornaments, etc. It took me three hours to assemble the first one, two and a half hours to assemble the second one, only 20 minutes to assemble the third, and 15 minutes to assemble the fourth. That’s a steep learning curve!
Nobody in my organization called me in five years or two years before retirement and said, “Here is what you can expect. Start planning now.” I was the boss. I was on my own. I asked lots of people lots of questions, and received very few answers.
Chipper Jones, the great Atlanta Braves third baseman, retired about the same time I did. He will go into the baseball Hall of Fame. He played Major League Baseball for 19 years. Of course, he had been playing ball for ten or twelve years before that as a child and then as a teenager.
The Braves retired his number. Chipper was quoted as saying, “I was done.”
I understand that. By the time I reached my 66th birthday, I was done. I had been earning an income for over 50 years. I want to continue to contribute to the world we live in, but I was ready for a transition. Chipper feels that a year away from baseball will help him “rekindle the flame.” I understand. Flames die down, naturally. After some nostalgia on Opening Day, he said, “I woke up the next morning and was thrilled that I didn’t have to go to the ballpark.”
I have just written the sum total of all Chipper Jones and I probably have in common. But he nailed it for me when he described his retirement.
Like Chipper, I had one of the best jobs in the world these past 15 years. Chipper was paid to play baseball. I was paid to initiate worthwhile projects with people who valued ideals such as freedom, integrity, grace, faith, courage, compassion, hope. It was, you could say, a heavenly job. I loved what I did.
Now, however, I am glad to be retired. The pavement ended. That’s okay with me. I like narrow paths in the woods.