Today was my dad’s official last day of work. He has served as a corporate attorney and partner at the same law firm for nearly 40 years. Talk about commitment- and loyalty.
Can you imagine the feeling? Your alarm clock wakes you up for work…for the last time. You drink your coffee and eat your standard pre-work breakfast…for the last time. You make the commute, park in your usual spot, hop in the elevator and ascend to the 18th floor, and engage in a typical work day…for the last time.
In a matter of 24 hours, everything changes. Suddenly, the majority of the waking hours of your day are no longer consumed by professional demands. An alarm clock ceases to be necessary- except when needed to catch a flight to Maui…or London…or Denver…or wherever your heart desires. Your days transition from being highly structured to open, flexible and…free!
While there is much to gain, there is also much that’s being lost- or, at least, released. No more lunch runs with your co-workers. No more popping in to your friends’ offices for a quick hello- or to discuss a client/case. No more gazing (daydreaming/vacation planning?) out of your office windows, appreciating your well-earned view of Puget Sound and Pike Place Market. Heck, no more driving into the parking garage that’s been housing your car during work hours for decades.
Two sides of the same coin. It’s like Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ is on repeat in the background: Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day…
I can’t begin to imagine how retiring after four decades of work feels. I can’t begin to imagine how it is when a significant part of your identity (e.g. lawyer) becomes something you discuss in past tense. And I can’t begin to know what it’s like to enter a very different phase of life from the ones you’ve previously experienced.
What I can imagine is this: He will wake up every day with an interest in engaging with life (no lounging in a La-Z-Boy for this guy). He will learn new things- whether they be languages, suitcase packing tips, tricks to playing Words With Friends, or cooking new dishes- and will, therefore, keep his mind sharp. He will put his health first; he will take care of his body and allow his love of tennis to drive many a day’s agenda. And, he will play: He will travel with my mom, take interesting classes, coach my siblings and I on the perfect volley, and get behind the wheel of many a golf cart. He will LIVE.
So, with both a happy and heavy heart, I congratulate my dad on this amazing rite of passage. As I retire from my infamous drinking career, my dad is retiring from his illustrious legal career. We are at very different- yet slightly similar- crossroads: both losing something we have loved and gaining something beautiful in its place.
I know these will be great, rich years for him, and I offer one reminder:
“Retirement means no pressure, no stress, no heartache…unless you play golf.” – Gene Perret
(Love you, Dad!)