Years ago in my working years I would plan a fishing trip for a certain day or a week end. Often I would be rained out, or something would come up that caused me to have to change my plans. Nothing is different now that I am retired. We make plans and something comes up to change our best laid plans. The difference now is that since every day is a Saturday, changes of plans are usually easier and less depressing. As many of you know we were planning to spend part of the winter in Florida but have had to change those best laid plans due to financial considerations and stock market losses. We will try again next winter.
Since this blog is titled “Wisdom for Living,” I wondered if there were lessons in this for anyone to learn? Let’s examine it.
For some time now we have been fed the Kool-Aid from a sector in this country that because we are America, we are somehow entitled to be successful at whatever we attempt. Success should be guaranteed whether one is planning a vacation, a fishing trip, a retirement, or maybe a new business venture. A college education should be a guarantee of a six figure income. Of course all this is nonsense.
I have found that life is a reaction as well as an action. We make our plans and we prepare. We educate ourselves. We save for the event. We get all set and then something happens. Suddenly everything changes. I read the story of a concert pianist who had spent his life perfecting his skills. He had become one of the world’s greatest artists of the keyboard. People would come from everywhere to hear him in concert. Then something happened. He lost the use of one of his hands. I think he was involved in an accident. Imagine how he must have felt. His reaction was to learn to play with one hand. He went on to become the greatest one handed piano player in history. Life handed him lemons and he made lemonade. We have all heard stories of such events that have caused major changes in people’s direction.
In my early life I tried to operate my own business. I was neither mentally nor financially prepared to run that business but that didn’t deter me. I failed miserably. After that failure I was faced with choices that didn’t please me but I did what I had to do to take care of my family. I reacted by going to the big city and learning how to sell cars. With great assistance from my wife and kids, we were able to get to the other side of a bad situation and have a very comfortable life. We all have to sometimes change the direction of our lives and do something different.
Like many of you, we have our retirement tied up in the stock market. Because of the recent crash we have had to change our plans. We are going to have to learn to live on less than we had planned. We are going to have to make our old car go a few more thousand miles. We are going to have to be more careful with all our spending. Will the market come back? Probably. Will we live long enough to see it? The jury is still out on that. Regardless, life will go on. Our choice now is to face it and deal with it. Hell, it might even turn out better than our original plans. Life has a way of doing that.
If you are reading this and you are a younger person, don’t think for a moment that I don’t understand the difficulty of what I’m talking about. I do. The lesson however is that life will go on. You must react to the hand you are dealt. Remember this, we as Americans get to decide for ourselves what success is. We can choose to be happy, or we can choose to be sad. Trade your Kool-Aid for some lemonade, and Cheers!!!
Ron Scarbro October 20, 2008
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