My younger son, all of sixteen years, is looking forward to retirement. He actually told us years ago that he just wants to retire, like Grandma. But now he has several months of work experience under his belt, and retirement is still his goal.
Amos is not lazy. I don’t want you to think poorly of him. He just wants to be in charge of what he does, not a slave to the demands of work.
A lot of people are like my son. They look forward to the end of the schedule, the alarm clock, and the insistence of a job. But what do they plan to do with the years that are left? Travel is an option for some, spending time with family and friends is on most lists, taking an afternoon nap is also an enjoyable goal.
In 1904, Othmar Ammann was a Swiss immigrant to America. He had an engineering degree from Switzerland and came looking for an opportunity. He found it in New York. Ammann helped design and build six of the eleven bridges that connect New York City to the rest of New York and New Jersey. Two of the bridges were the longest suspension bridges of his time. He helped build tunnels and skyscrapers for forty years, including the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.
But Ammann didn’t want to work for others. He didn’t want the demands of supervisors and bosses. At age sixty, he decided to retire and do something he had wanted to do for years, to be his own man. So he formed his own engineering design company, and went to work.
He continued designing and building bridges, skyscrapers, and tunnels across the world. He worked on designs for the federal government to withstand atomic blasts. At age 86 he completed his final work the Verrazano-Narrows bridge in New York City, the longest suspension bridge holding that record until 1981. Ammann built no more only because he died.
Perhaps you are looking forward to retirement, wanting to get up when you choose, visit people you love at times that are not holidays, and just doing as you please. But just because you retire does not mean you should stop being useful. Many people need you still. They need your knowledge and skill, your creativity and interest, and your ideas. Look around you. Whom can you help? How can you help? The finish line might be in sight but you haven’t crossed it yet.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. . .” C.S.Lewis