I was a recent participant in a length of service award ceremony at work. It struck me how when we are young, we don’t tend to think much about things when we have plenty of time to make the best decisions. Then as we age we tend to mull things over a bit more just as time becomes an ever more precious commodity.
During the ceremony the 25 year service awardees, like me, paled in comparison to those veterans of 35, 40, and even 50 years. I wondered if those long-time veterans had figured out how to ease the passing of time. Obviously they had made peace with their workplace. Had work become another example of their patience and harmony with life, or was work a refuge of routine away from a life less lived?
I couldn’t decide whether to envy my more experienced colleagues or suggest retirement counseling. Of course, I am not in a place to judge, nor are you… The answer is that there is no one answer.
Some of us are truly happy coming to work each day and perfectly willing to keep doing that until the very last day we are alive. Those are the lucky ones who have found their true calling and love what they do. Either they are doing what they have always loved, or they have learned to appreciate the subtle joys of professional accomplishment. The years go by like weeks in a vocation more like a vacation.
Then I remembered my dear friend who ticked off the days to her retirement, starting back at T-minus 3 years and counting. It wasn’t that she despised her work, or struggled for motivation to fulfill responsibilities. In fact, this woman was in demand as a natural leader, objective thinker, and a creatively productive worker. But she had other stuff to do…. Greece, Italy, wine on the back patio, independent children with comfortable, loving relationships with their mom.
Back at the ceremony, as I approached the big boss, he smiled and said, “That’s a good start,” as he shook my hand and we posed with the 25 year certificate. All I could think about is all the things I haven’t done. Yes, there is unfinished work… But I can’t help but think there is much more left to do in life.
I can’t start counting down just yet. I think this grizzled civil servant has to quit mulling things over and get busy, whether it’s at the office or in the back yard. After all, like the boss says, I just got started….