I am retiring on June 2.
This the most important moment of my life, bar none. That is not hyperbole.
It is the final opportunity to get my life right.
I am not retiring to drink whiskey and watch an endless loop of Three Stooges episodes. I am retiring to make every effort to find a way to be true to myself. To do with my life what I was meant to do and, in the process, make myself and those who love me, happy.
I have a few major regrets in my life.
One occurred in 1985. I was laid off from my job at Wang Laboratories. Corporations in those days had more of a conscience; I received a generous severance package. If I am not mistaken I was given something like six months to a year of pay and benefits along with free access to a center where I could receive help writing a resume, receive career counseling and assistance searching for employment.
I was well aware at that time that it was the perfect opportunity to change my life, a life that I hated bitterly because it was so viciously in opposition to who I was and what I wanted.
I pissed that opportunity away. I was thirty one years old. I continued down a path of stupidity.
In 1998 Carol and I owned a business that was going down the tubes. In desperation we withdrew retirement funds from an account that was available to us from previous jobs. We were falling behind on our mortgage payments and Carol suggested that we use the funds to stay current with those payments.
I made some stupid excuse why that was unnecessary, because I was deliriously insane in the belief that my life was over. I went out and bought a Trans Am and pissed that money away on other things.
As a result we defaulted on our mortgage and had to refinance at the final hour. Had we kept current with the payments the mortgage would have been paid off in 2001. We would have spent the last fifteen years mortgage free.
Instead we are still making mortgage payments and will do so until the house outlives us.
Both of those moments in my life haunt me.
I am reflecting deeply on those two huge mistakes as I approach retirement. I am now 62. How many chances can a man expect in life?
I know that I have to take a viciously honest look at myself if I am to avoid any more wasted time. I cannot continue to be who I am; I cannot keep living my life the way I am living it.
Once again I have been given an opportunity in life. I will blow that opportunity unless I change who I am and how I approach life.
Period. There are no other options. No other possibilities.
I need to make changes. Hard changes, changes of habit, changes of perception, changes in thinking, changes in approach.
This is the famous final scene. I am coldly, clearly, viciously aware of that.
I also need to find a sense of balance. I need to find a way to enjoy this. It is a remarkable opportunity, maybe the last one I will ever have.
I recently read a psychological reference about people who just cannot enjoy life.
That would be me. I regret the past, I worry about the future and I rarely exist in the moment.
Even when I am with my family I don't experience pure happiness because there is always a touch of self consciousness and self doubt clouding my emotions.
I am rarely happy because I don't allow myself to be happy.
That has to change. I have given my notice, everything is lined up beautifully in a financial sense, and still I feel no exultation.
There is a twisting in my gut.
That is sheer stupidity.
I should be dancing in the streets, for Christ sake.
Anybody crazy enough to have followed this blog since its inception knows I am a man of words and not a man of action. I have said thousands of things in here that I never followed up on.
I am well aware of that too.
The last and most important point I need to make is that I owe an honest attempt to Carol. This beautiful woman who has stood by my side through all my failures and insecurities and bad decisions. This woman who I am sure has thought to herself on more than one occasion "This is not the man I thought I was marrying."
I owe her. I owe it to her for me to turn this thing around and to pull my weight in changing our life together for the better. We are a team and I have not carried my share of the load.
That's where I am at right now.
It is a glorious place to be and a heavy duty place to be.
I recognize the mistakes I have made in the past and the pain they caused for Carol and me. I am sadly aware of the years of my life I have wasted.
Wasted time is the coldest sin a human can commit.
Time will tell whether I am strong enough for this challenge.