Thoughts on be­com­ing a full-time mem­ber of AARP

The Boyertown Area Times - - OPINION - Don Meyer, Ph.D. Dr. Don Meyer is pres­i­dent emer­i­tus of the Univer­sity of Val­ley Forge, Phoenixville. Con­nect via dg­meyer@val­ley­forge.edu, Face­book.com/DrDonMeyer, www.DrDonMeyer.com, Twit­ter and In­sta­gram: @ DrDonMeyer.

“At age 20, we worry about what oth­ers think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we dis­cover they haven’t been think­ing of us at all.” — Ann Lan­ders

I will never for­get re­ceiv­ing an in­vi­ta­tion to join the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­tired Per­sons (AARP). I just turned 50 years old. Yes, I was mildly insulted but most of all I was sur­prised.

Some years ago my brother, Ken, told me not to feel un­com­fort­able when peo­ple started ask­ing me about when I was go­ing to re­tire. He said it is just part of nor­mal con­ver­sa­tion when peo­ple get to be our age. I had al­ready be­come used to the cashier at O’Grady’s Restau­rant vol­un­teer­ing to give me the 10 per­cent se­nior’s dis­count with­out ask­ing to look at my driver’s li­cense for proof of age.

But on June 30, 2016, at 70 years of age my re­tire­ment from the Univer­sity of Val­ley Forge be­came of­fi­cial. The UVF Board of Trustees gra­ciously gave me the ti­tle of Pres­i­dent Emer­i­tus with­out re­spon­si­bil­ity for this year. Evie and I will con­tinue to live in the old farm­house here on cam­pus un­til we move around March 1, 2017.

As full-time mem­bers of AARP, we have ex­pe­ri­enced all kinds of changes. Per­haps the most strik­ing has been the re­al­iza­tion that most evenings we don’t need to set our alarm for the next morn­ing. And since some­one told us that re­tire­ment is like hav­ing six Satur­days and a Sun­day, what­ever we plan to do “to­day,” if we don’t fin­ish it, we al­ways have “to­mor­row.”

Please do not mis­un­der­stand me. We are not re­tire­ment ex­perts. We are novices in ev­ery way. But if you were to ask us how it is go­ing, we would both quickly re­ply, “Ab­so­lutely won­der­ful. We love this new sea­son.”

Shortly af­ter I first be­came the pres­i­dent of UVF I heard about the ad­vice given by a pres­i­dent of my alma mater, Wheaton Col­lege. He said, “In your first year as pres­i­dent, you run ab­so­lutely as fast as you can. Af­ter that first year, you pick up speed.” Af­ter nearly 20 years in this role I must ad­mit there is some truth in those words.

At times Evie would ask me if I was “caught up” with my work. Over the years I usu­ally an­swered, “I am never caught up.” Most lead­er­ship re­spon­si­bil­ity is like farm­ing. You hardly ever hear a farmer say, “I am fin­ished” or “caught up” at the end of a day. Farm­ers just stop when the day is over and re­sume the next day.

As a re­sult, when we en­tered this new world of AARP, we de­cided to ini­tially fo­cus on rest, re­fresh­ing, and re-charg­ing our phys­i­cal, spir­i­tual and emo­tional bat­ter­ies. We are dis­cov­er­ing this kind of per­sonal re­newal takes time. And when we are prone to feel guilty, we think of Parker J. Palmer’s words, “Self­care is never a self­ish act.”

We know this sea­son will come to an end. We have friends who re­tired and many of them coun­sel us, though, “Don’t do as we did. We took on too much. We have been way too busy.”

As we have pon­dered this new sea­son, we are con­sid­er­ing these three words: drift; driven; de­lib­er­ate. We do not want to over­com­mit our­selves and be­come driven to tasks which ob­li­gate us be­yond that which is prac­ti­cal of this sea­son in our lives.

On the other hand, we also do not want to drift along aim­lessly and mean­ing­lessly with­out any pur­pose or ob­jec­tive.

We would, how­ever, like to be de­lib­er­ate by seek­ing God’s wis­dom as to what we do and do not do by try­ing to keep our per­sonal and public lives in healthy bal­ance. We are not sure what that will look like but we anx­iously an­tic­i­pate the cre­ative ad­ven­tures of dis­cov­er­ing to­gether what that means.

Re­gard­ing re­tire­ment … this is as far as we’ve come.

Think about it.

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