A new decade has arrived. I have been retired for 9 years. It seems like yesterday. I remember my boss, Plant and Service Operations Director, Phil Gatton, saying the most complimentary things about me…and my thinking that I would like to meet the person that he was talking about. I had a sketch of a speech, prepared in my mind, to give…but…when Phil finished speaking, it dawned on me that my career was over. For over 32 years I had lived Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. With my best efforts to stifle the waterworks…I could not help shedding a few tears at the imminent change in my life. I had thought about the University on my holidays and weekends and when I was sick. I had been witness to the Campus at its best…and at its worst. Retirement had seemed like a pipe-dream…and unattainable! Then, like watching an approaching train, from a long distance off, it had arrived, seemingly in a moment. I looked around at life long friends and so many of them had been an encouragement to me. I grieved for the people that I had not been able to help and the initiatives that I had to leave unfinished. I…suddenly….understood that I was traveling…in a day….a journey that had taken decades to develop and fulfill. I understood that Act II had arrived.
I have always believed that one person can change the direction of large organizations. A person that is not afraid to speak truth to power, has unlimited potential. When I was young I was keenly aware that I was one of, ‘the little people,’ but I discovered that we little people make up the world. There is a false construct to the hierarchal structure of society. Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit at the front of the bus….and changed history!
We had a lovely New Years Eve dinner, last evening, at Kokopelli restaurant in Marion. As I sat and enjoyed the delicious cuisine and the beautiful surroundings I reflected on the grace of God that my family and I have enjoyed for many years. I have not merited it…nor do I deserve it.
Jonathon and I had a New Years Day walk around Campus Lake. There were numerous people on the same journey. It is over 50 degrees and the sun is shinning and the birds are singing…and our lives are open to the promise of the future. Many of the Christmas decorations still adorned the woods trees, and they wore them with pride and honor. There were several ducks swimming on the placid lake. They quacked out…Happy New Year!
When I first retired, many people asked me what I was going to do for work, now? They seemed disappointed when I responded that, I was going to enjoy living! It seems to me that life should be about more than working for money as a means to the meaning of life and the ultimate fulfillment thereof.
Now, here it is. As the seconds clicked by on the clock we slipped into a new year.
‘I want us to be doing things, prolonging life’s duties as much as we can. I want death to find me planting my cabbages, neither worrying about it nor the unfinished gardening.’ Michel de Montaigne
I was made aware of the above quote, a few evenings ago, while watching the movie, Anesthesia. The character, of a university professor, that the actor Sam Waterston was portraying…whispered in the ear of a man who answered his pleas for help as he lay dying from stab wounds…to tell his wife that he was, ‘planting cabbages.’
And, so, what cabbages will you be planting in 2020?
I am a retired from Southern Illinois University after thirty two years of service. I enjoy traveling and writing and I have been able to do more of both over the past two years.
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