For the last 446 days, I have been disconnected from the job force. Well, there was one day when I served as a member of a mock jury, and got paid an entire $50 for 6 hours of work, but besides that, I’ve written curriculum… and not worked.
Yesterday, out of the blue, I was contacted by the employment agency that I worked with for a while earlier this year, when I was thinking I should be engaged in employment, being the young and vital guy that I am. And Cheri is working more than full-time, and the only weight I was pulling – financially – consisted of two retirement checks around the first of every month. The agency had a full-time, six-month position at a large insurance company that needed someone to basically do data input for new employees until the middle of next February. The pay was fine, and I was sure I could do the job with one eye closed (I needed the other to see the screen), but like the difference between heaven and earth, the job did have some drawbacks. One drawback is kind of silly, but makes a difference. They wanted me to do the computer work, not from home, but going into the office five days a week. The last time I had an office away from home, where I was required to be at 8 ½ hours a day was when I worked in Nashville at a general agency of the church. Before that, it was never. So, my proclivity for going out into the world every day, and sitting at a corporate desk is pretty much non-existent.
Plus – and this is kind of the silly part – it’s September in North Dakota. Now September is fine, as is October, and even most of November, but you know that Winter is just waiting to dump snow on our world. The office I would go to is about ten miles away, so it’s a good hour round trip commute. When the snow hits, and leaving work at the same time everyone else in Fargo goes home means that I will end up grinding through snow storms that I swore I would never do again, even if they are in town. The wind blows just as strong in town as on the prairie. Given that scenario, my excitement about taking the job waned quite a bit.
Also – not to be a snob, but even though I could do the job (I could also work as a greeter at Walmart, or stock shelves at the grocery store), it certainly is not what I have done for the last 42 years. My role has always been working with people, sometimes in difficult circumstances, but often to serve as a coach, or discerning voice, or to encourage someone to do the best they could. I’ve also been a strong workshop leader, public speaker, and most every meeting I’ve been to, I’ve been the one who runs it.
That’s frankly a very different set of skills and experiences – that I have enjoyed in the past – from sitting at a computer, and inputting data. Like I said, I did some of that, but usually then took the time to analyze and shape the big picture of either trends or bottlenecks or different paths to take. This job ends with putting the little digits on the forms, and moving to the next form, and entering the digits, and so forth for 8 hours, away from home. And like I said, it paid “ok,” but it won’t make me rich…
One other thing about the past 42 years, is that, especially as a district superintendent, I discovered that during the holiday season – at least after about December 6th, until probably January 6th in a new year, nobody wants the DS around. The pastors and churches were way too busy “doing” Advent, and Christmas and end of the year things to get involved with meetings or that kind of superintendent stuff. It was a nice secret that superintendents know, and that meant after the grind of the fall meetings and trips, there was time to make peanut brittle, and decorate and do all the rest of the things that brought joy.
Also, Cheri does have Fridays off. It’s been a very nice time for us to spend together, just running errands or taking short trips, or just taking a bit more leisure around the house. That all goes away if I don’t have Fridays off as well.
So, I’ve talked myself into turning down the job, for a bunch of probably not very good reasons, except for the one reason being that I am retired, and any job I am going to take on is first going to be interesting, and second going to be one that doesn’t destroy what feels like a pretty good rhythm of life right now. I know it’s probably more of a question of inertia – things continuing to be what they have been – but I’m 64, and for my entire life, it’s seemed like I’ve always been handed a whole bag of “must-dos” that I’ve had to take care of, and for now, at least, I don’t have to. I mean, who’s going to have a nice nap in the afternoon if I am sitting at a computer, inputting data? To share that with the employment folks probably would not sit well, but if it means I don’t find a job, well, there are worse things. I am still writing curriculum, and doing other odd jobs from time to time.
One last thing: if I were to take the job, it would mean I would no longer have the time or freedom to write to you every day. For some of you, that may feel like a relief, but for me there is something totally enjoyable, and in a sense powerful to reflect on my own life’s happenings, and wonder how yours would/could be similar.
I guess I mean to say that every choice we make has consequences. Some of them are things we hope will happen, others are things we can work with or tolerate, but others become either chains that lock us into one way of life, or steel doors that keep us from where we want to be. Whenever anyone asks me how retirement is, I am quick to say, “I love it – I can do or not do whatever makes the most sense, and is the most fun.”
So, no job for me this week. I expect something else will come along, sometime, but until then, I have the time and the capacity to enjoy my life now, and to prepare still for what’s to come. I hope you find the same freedom for your own life. Blessings and peace to you.
Word for the day: perdure. Pronounced purr-DURR. It’s frankly not a work that we use often, if at all, as we have come to prefer “endure,” its sister word instead. They are also very close in meaning. Perdure comes from the Latin core word of durus, meaning “hard.” Something is durable. When you turn it into the verb, it becomes durare, which is “to last.” Adding the intensifier per to it just makes it a stronger word, perdurare, which means to continue forever. “Perdure” is to last permanently, without end. It’s sister, endure, really means “to continue in existence,” although it comes up just shy of permanent status. So when a young fellow says to his girl, “My love for you will perdure,” it means something nice that it sounds, instead of “Our love will endure the test of time…” Few things in this world perdure, to tell the truth, although many more will endure, at least for a season of a time.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.