Pos­i­tiv­ity, op­ti­mism and a coat of paint

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

The bloke at the paint shop is re­tir­ing and it is with heavy heart that I bid him farewell.

It’s been a good 12 years since he first sold me a tub of of his finest and there have been many litres of it since. Paint for the roof, house and fence – acrylic, enamel . . . you name it, I’ve bought it.

Not to men­tion the turps, pig­mented seal­ers, brushes, rollers, sand pa­per and mask­ing tape – miles and miles of it.

He’s been there through­out – un­be­liev­ably en­thu­si­as­tic and al­l­know­ing; on hand to ad­vise, guide and en­cour­age on the some­times painful road to home ren­o­va­tion. I can’t be­lieve he’s go­ing. ‘‘You were born for this role,’’ I say. ‘‘What will you do next?’’

He smiles and hits me with a care­fully con­structed plan that is in­deed in­spir­ing.

Tom, un­like many older codgers I’ve met on the cusp of re­tire­ment, has no de­sire to put his feet up.

He’s made a bit of cash over the last 40 years and wants to put some of it to good use help­ing oth­ers less for­tu­nate than him­self.

The 65-year-old reck­ons he’s got plenty of time to do his bit for hu­man­ity and plans to be around for at least another 20 years.

‘‘We live in age of mod­ern, medicine,’’ he says.

‘‘All the sta­tis­tics tell me I’ll live longer than my fa­ther and his dad be­fore him.’’

His op­ti­mism is in­fec­tious and I can’t help but feel equally en­thused as he out­lines his hu­man­i­tar­ian hopes and as­pi­ra­tions.

It’s a far cry from another guy I know.

He ran out of things to do af­ter his first six months off the pay­roll and quickly turned into a surly and can­tan­ker­ous ver­sion of his for­mer self – scowl­ing at the world as soon as he opened his eyes in the morn­ing and fill­ing his days find­ing fault in oth­ers.

How I hope I don’t fall into that trap when my time comes. And it will. No­body has an in­fi­nite ca­reer path ahead of them and all of us will have a big ad­just­ment to make once we reach the fi­nal stage of it – un­less fate, and a pre­ma­ture exit from life, comes first.

The big ques­tion will be ‘‘what next?’’

And pro­cras­ti­na­tion will be the un­do­ing of any­one who fails to seek an an­swer.

Which bring me back to my old mate the paint mer­chant and our con­ver­sa­tion one hu­mid Satur­day af­ter­noon.

He’s got me think­ing and I wish him well as I exit his shop for what could be the last time un­der his watch. ‘‘Good luck,’’ I say. ‘‘Have fun.’’ He will, I’m sure, though he’s first to ad­mit there’s one lit­tle thing to get out of the way first.

Yes, he’s got to paint his house. He’s spent the last 40 years telling peo­ple how to get their own homes into top shape while ne­glect­ing his own.

But, not sur­pris­ingly, he’s look­ing for­ward to rip­ping into that task too.

Ever thought about what you might do af­ter you re­tire? Not every­one is in­ter­ested in a quiet life.

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