My college fraternity brothers have a wonderful ritual. We have an annual newsletter that we all contribute to. (NB: As always ... ONE PERSON ... has kept it alive for 40 years, the estimable Mike Smith.) Many of my fellow 62-year-olds are in partial or total retirement. In my contribution to this year's newsletter, I vented about the "retirement bit":
"You've all doubtless heard the Churchill yarn. The old man was transiting the Atlantic by ship. An aide made a mental calculation and turned to WSC, 'Sir, I've calculated how much brandy you've drunk,' he said referring to the cavernous ballroom in which they were seated. 'It comes to about here [pointing to a spot about halfway up the wall].' WSC leaned in toward the chap, pointed to his marker on the wall, and purportedly said, 'So little time, so much to do.'
"I am a troubled 62. Why? SO LITTLE TIME, SO MUCH TO DO.
"I have no idea whether this brief missive will attract contempt or mere indifference. Just let me say that I am appalled by the idea of retirement ... or slowing down in any way, shape or form. I write from New Orleans. It's 5 a.m. I've been up for 3 hours, working on today's speech.
"I AM BLESSED. I HAVE A CHANCE [in just 4 hours] TO INFLUENCE 3,500 LIVES. I DARE NOT F*** IT UP.
"I am often tired (I'm 62, not 22), but I Love & Appreciate the Opportunities I've been granted to take part in the Universal Dialogue about the Meaning of Work & Life & National Purpose.
"PUT SIMPLY, 'RETIREMENT' TO ME MEANS BEING DRAGGED OFF A STAGE AND SLIPPED INTO A SIMPLE PINE BOX INSCRIBED WITH THESE WORDS: 'HE GAVE A SHIT.'"