Two weeks ago I was in Jacksonville for my forty-fifth high school reunion. Yeah, can you believe it? Forty-five years. That number amazes me too. I had a wonderful time reconnecting with friends that I hadn't seen or talked to since our high school graduation. We discussed our careers, parents, children and grandchildren. While the conversations were brief due to the good turn out, I chatted with as many of our classmates as possible.
I was surprised and pleased to learn the dominant emotion in the room was joy. The reunion was a joyful occasion but it was more than that. My classmates were sharing with me changes he or she had just made or were in the process of making. Most were retiring from careers that had spanned thirty years and they were excited and energized by the next phase of their lives. One classmate had just returned from touring the Western part of the United States where she purchased several acres of land in Colorado. She was a life long resident of Florida but was now going to spend part of the year in Colorado. Another classmate was sharing his love for woodworking and how he was now going to be able to spend more time crafting furniture for his home, family, and friends. I believe this venture will eventually lead to second career for my friend.
We hear so many negative stories about change and life after retirement that we become fearful and reticent about our future. The Fourth Quarter of life can be whatever you choose to make it. I have friends and colleagues that are holding on to jobs that they don't like, working with people they don't respect because the "job" is all they know. Retire is only a word that means to withdraw to or from a particular place. The word does not have to define who you are or your place in the world. The Dalai Lama said, "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." My question today is, where will you find joy?