In the spring of this year I was in my parents’ backyard when I suddenly smelled cigar smoke wafting over the fence.
I knew that smell meant Mr. Miller was out on his porch again. Mr. Miller and his wife had, for most of my life, been the next-door neighbor. About equally as long – 25 or 30 years, I don’t know – he would head out to his porch in the evening to smoke his cigar.
These days he gets to smoke a few more.
“Hello” I called out. “How’s retirement treating you?”
“Not very well,” he said.
A little taken back by his answer, I probed some more. Things hadn’t been going well since he had recently retired. He was having a few health problems. A scary thing happened the week before when he temporarily lost his eyesight. Yeah, one day he was out with his wife and then he couldn’t see. He told me that everything was really dark and blurry. It got better, but not without giving him quite a jolt.
There were countless times I’d see Mr. Miller leaving for work and returning later in the day. He commuted as far as my dad does so there was nothing really that striking about his work.
What got to me that day was this: Mr. Miller put in his hard time, working faithfully for a company for decades, commuting the whole time and then finally got to retire. Now he has all the time in the world to do whatever he wants.
But, he can’t. With failing health, his most capable physical years were spent working. This event has impacted several decisions I’ve made this year such as buying a home, supporting my wife as she started her business and learning to ride a motorcycle.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we all quit our jobs and go unbridled crazy. There’s a difference between risk and calculated risk.
I’m a big fan of calculated risk. Isn’t there something you’ve always wanted to do?
- Weren’t you going to start that business and give it a go?
- Was there someplace you’ve wanted to go or something to learn?
- Do you need to resolve a friendship or forgive a family member?
- Weren’t you going to have that one book read (or written) by now?
- Didn’t you always want to get a pet?
Whatever it is – start making plans, now, for how you’re going to make it happen and follow those steps to make it reality.
Because one day you’re going to realize you’ve let time kill you slowly, or you’ve owned it.
So, which is it? Are you killing time or is time killing you?