Sep 212013
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“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.

That will be the beginning.”

–Louis L’Amour

 So what is so hard about getting started?

Are you stalled?

When I was a young sprout, there were ideas everywhere, or so it seemed to me. Everything was new. I couldn’t tell a fresh idea from one that was worn out. They all seemed exciting to me. Moving on through life, I gained knowledge and judgment. I began to form opinions. I got picky about ideas. I got sophisticated. College taught me that all the stuff I learned as a kid was crap, my parents were dumb, unsophisticated hicks and I shouldn’t trust my instincts unless they were first verified by The New Republic. But college doesn’t last forever. Sometime you have to start paying the piper. I had to get a job.

In the workplace it was different. So much for new ideas. Nobody even wanted me to think. It turned out that those smart college profs didn’t have any better answers than my parents. All the social profiling and posturing that seem so smart in college just didn’t seem to work in the office. I bought into all the new ideas, got creative, encouraged people to become raving fans and quickly discovered that my boss didn’t want my ideas. He wanted me to do what he wanted, when he wanted it, stop complaining and suck up. So life continued. I hunkered back and just coped, muddling through my parenting years, reeling between one crisis and another, cautiously taking baby steps without making any big commitments.

Now here in my Golden years, I find that I’m pretty set in my ways. I don’t expect to be a world beater anymore. I just want to get along. It’s what worked for me all these. Whatever success I got in life, I can attribute to taking no initiative, grabbing no limelight and following the person who can do me the most good. And then I retired.

I thought I was all finished with life. I thought all my battles were fought and lost. I thought there wasn’t a challenge left to face. I thought it was all over. Then I discovered I was wrong. Retirement makes you start all over – unless you are ready to die and get it over with.

So now, in retirement, nothing much matters. It’s just you. There is no job, no status, no followers. Whatever you had before is gone. Who are you? Who cares? Why do you get up? It’s all over if you let your job define you. If you don’t have a role in your family or your community, you might as well have died on our last day at work.

So the good news today about finishing is that it always signals a beginning. That is the problem that retired people face and the answer they choose makes all the difference. You know what ended with retirement and if you stop there all that is left is to ride that end down to the grave. On the other hand, if you choose to begin something, all the excitement and opportunities of life fill you with excitement and optimism. How can you begin something at the end of your life? The question begs the answer. You can’t. If you begin something new, you can’t be at the end. And if you don’t begin something new it is all over, whether you know it or not.

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Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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