I’ll Retire When . . .

Originally published in Flourishing July/August 2012

I’m often asked, “When do you plan to retire?”  My gut reaction to that question is, “Why would I want to do that?”  But, you deserve a better answer.

So, when I look in the mirror every morning, I see white hair, where black hair once flourished.  I see wrinkles and age spots, and scar tissue, too.  Linda says my backside looks like my dad’s—I don’t think that’s a compliment.  I suppose these things should bother me, but they don’t. 

When I look in the mirror every morning, I have a yellow bird on my shoulder.  We sing together while I shave.  We shower together, and we share breakfast, too.  My grandchildren are sure that I’ve gone over the top.  I say that I’m at peace with myself and with the world.  Why wouldn’t I sing?

I feel the same way about my work.  When I arrive at the office, I’m working with and for people who have entrusted me with their life’s savings; yet when times are tough for them, they call to ask how I’m doing.  The next time you’re sick, call your doctor, thank him, and ask how he’s doing.  You’ll feel better, and you will probably have made his day.  So, I sing at work—albeit silently to protect the innocent.

I’ve just finished reading Turning Pro,* by Steven Pressfield (best-selling author of The War of Art and The Legend of Bagger Vance).  Before turning pro as a writer, Steven worked at a number of jobs, including fruit-picker and dish-washer, but  most notably and happily as an over the road truck driver.  I can relate: I liked building things with concrete and steel, but I never believed that was what I was put on earth to do.  I turned pro in the financial advice business in March of 1989, two years before anyone would hire me.  When it comes to retirement, Steven Pressfield speaks for me:

The Spartan king Agesilaus was still fighting in armor when he was eighty-two.  Picasso was painting past ninety,…

Once we turn pro, we’re like sharks who have tasted blood, or renunciants who have glimpsed the face of God.  For us, there is no finish line.  No bell ends the bout.  Life is the pursuit.  Life is the hunt.  When our hearts burst…then we’ll go out, and no sooner.

One more thing:  Family Wealth Management will be here for you long after I’m gone.  mh


* Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield, Black Irish Entertainment, LLC,  2012, p 115.