Sunday, August 22, 2010

when I'm 64

In less than a week, I will become 63 years old, perilously close to the age the Beatles referred to in their “When I’m 64” song that was included on the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” album.

Paul McCartney wrote the song LONG before it was recorded by the Beatles - in 1956. The Beatles played the song occasionally during their Cavern days, and it was finally recorded in December of 1966.

On my “milestone” birthdays, I’ve usually celebrated by partying with family and friends (I got a very useful beer refrigerator when I turned 60, and Sharon hired a belly dancer for me when I turned 40) but the years in between have provided an opportunity for some quiet reflection.

Throughout my life, I’ve created a number of “five year plans”. Some of them worked out better than others. Although I was never able to bring any of them to full fruition, I usually managed to accomplish some of the things “on my list” before I created yet another 5 year plan.

There was a time in the mid 1990’s, when I worked at CIGNA, that I was on track to have $1,000,000 in the bank, and a house that was fully paid for, by the time that I turned 65. Life, however, had other plans for me, and there are a LOT of baby boomers who have had experiences similar to mine.

In 1998, Spencer Johnson published a book called “Who moved my cheese?”

That was about the time that a lot us “boomers” first realized that we were going to be facing far different retirement years than we had envisioned, and that the only way to survive was to become adaptable. In my case, I eventually concluded that it made more sense to sell my house and my car and move to China to teach English than to continue what I was doing. Although a lot of folks may conclude that my decision to move was carrying adaptability to an extreme, the truth is that it was a wonderful experience, and I don’t regret for a minute making the decision to take a journey halfway around the world where I didn’t even speak the native language.

A lot of folks in my “peer group” (including me) have started to draw our Social Security income as soon as we could in order to pay our ongoing expenses. The days of 25 (or more) years of service with one company, the gold watch, and the ironclad retirement plan are, sad to say, pretty much history.

However, there IS a little hope for some of us, if we take the time to read a book written by Teresa Ghilarducci, titled “When I’m Sixty Four: the Plot against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them”.

On my way to Kenosha the other day on my bicycle, I met a man coming from the other direction on HIS bicycle. He told me that he was 74 years old, but he looked pretty spry for his age. He wasn’t planning to ride as far as I was, or as fast, but he’s still doing better than a lot of people his age, some of whom couldn’t even walk around the block.

There WAS a time that I thought that 64 was REALLY old, and being 74 would definitely be ancient history. However, not long ago, Hugh Hefner said that 80 is the new 40, and there MAY be a grain of truth to what he said.

“Hef” became 84 years old on April 9 of this year. Like most people, I feel it’s a little odd that a guy that age would still have girlfriends in their 20’s, but he seems to be living proof that you are only as old as you feel.

To borrow some phrases from the Beatles, I’m not sure if anyone will still need me, or feed me, when I turn 64, and I’m absolutely certain I won’t have any grandchildren on my knees, but I AM certain of one thing:

It will be the start of a brand new adventure.

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