When I was young, just like some of you, I did not give much thought to retirement. Being a divorcee and raising two children was my main priority at the time. I was fortunate to always have a job. Again, I did what my parents taught me which was: work hard and that is what matters. Like them though the jobs only allowed for the basic needs of housing, food, clothing, transportation,medical needs and an and occasional vacation. Saving for retirement did not fit into the plan. I can remember thinking, just as they did, social security will be enough and that time is a long way off.
That time is now here. My parents and most of my family have passed on. The children are raising their families. Friends have passed. Social security and Medicare are not stable. Twenty-five cent candy bars now cost $1.50 or more. With that said, there is no need to say more because I know that boomers every where know about the economy and etc. The point that I would like to make is the difference in living and staying.
Many years ago at a conference, I was listening to a speaker who explained the difference in living and staying. At the time the speech was very humorous but made a lot of sense. I will never forget what he said. I still apply it to my life today. He asked the audience this question. Have you ever known a person, we will call him George that you see every few years only? You ask the person when you meet, “where are you living now?” George replies, ” Well, I had some rough times so I am staying with my Mom over on the East side.” Then five or ten years pass and you meet George. Again you ask, “where are you living now?’ George replies, ” I married Martha. I have a good job. I have money in the bank. We are staying up town in the big house. Times are good!” Several years later George pops into your life and once again you ask, “Where are you living now?” George replies, ” Martha left me. I lost my job. My family is gone. I am staying with a guy I met yesterday over on Fifty Second Street.” Years go by. One day you meet George again and ask, “How are you? Where are you living now?” George replies, ” Man, I finally learned after all this years about the word living.” My family is gone, Mom passed away. My health is good. I live in a small house on Maryland Avenue. I have some great friends. We play cards a few times a week and help the homeless. My daughter, that I left years ago, lives in Virginia. I am going to become a grandparent. I have been invited to visit them next month. I planted vegetables in my small garden. My tomatoes are huge. On Fridays, I volunteer at the Senior center. Life is good! Today I live, I don’t stay. I finally learned how to live. Life is not about what I have, who I am with or how much money is in the bank. Life is not about staying with a friend or in the the big house. Life is about living and accepting what is good just for today. I learned that life changes on the outside but it is up to me to change on the inside in order to live. Thank you for asking and caring for all these years. You know, I never asked you before but, where are you living?”
So I will ask you as I have asked myself, “Where are you living at retirement age?” We boomers are in the last stage of our lives. Let’s live. Are you living or staying? No matter where we are, single, married, rich or poor, we still have the choice to live today. George learned in time. Have you?
A facebook friend just posted a quote/photo that I feel would sum this story up.
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…. Life is about dancing in the rain!/John Kelly