Most days, I wake well before 6 a.m. I usually get up alone, have a breakfast that only a horse could love, and try to relax before going off to work. Iíve found that I like the quiet and Iíve come to enjoy the routine.
Anyway, the other morning, Iíd settled in for a cup of coffee and the newspaper when I started paying attention to who was singing on the radio.
It was Roy Orbison.
He of ďCrying,Ē ďOnly the Lonely,Ē and ďRunning Scared.Ē He of my late grade school and early high school years. He of the times when I struggled mightily for the courage to ask Gaynell McArdle to dance and then, when she said yes, had to re-learn how to breathe.
Hearing him triggered thoughts that can come upon you when itís not yet dawn, youíre 60+ years old, and youíre alone at the breakfast table.
Iím going to retire at the end of this year because it seems like the right time.
My wife is all for it because she wants me away from the stress of the position I hold at work.
Still, she knows that Iím one of those individuals who needs things to do or else Iíll be getting on the nerves of everyone around me. So, Iíll likely end up with something part time to supplement our retirement income and Iíll be volunteering here and there. Iíll also continue writing because thatís never been work.
That morning, though, triggered some thoughts. While I was sitting there, I realized that Iíve been one of the lucky ones. I started working in 1964 and, since then, have never once been out of work.
I remembered that, when I started, it all seemed so straightforward. Back then, I knew with a young manís certainty that if I did this, learned that, and was willing to go ďthere,Ē - wherever ďthereĒ was - work would be available. Heck, weíd started putting men into space and the opportunities seemed to be everywhere.
That kind of thinking is nothing more than a dream now.
I recently read somewhere that the median time an individual spends in any job these days is 4.1 years.
I had trouble digesting that because, aside from several part time jobs I had while I was in various schools, I spent almost 30 years in one career and am starting my thirteenth in a second.
Like I said, Iíve been lucky and, believe me, I know it. I know it because all I have to do is look around and I can see that such is no longer the norm and that people with much stronger credentials, ability, and experience than I have are struggling.
My wife and I have three grown children who will all be finishing their education in the next few months.
Our oldest will have his second degree. This time in accounting. Our daughter will complete a degree in art. Our youngest will pick up one that deals with all of the new composite materials from which, these days, they manufacture airplanes, snowboards, and a raft of other things.
Given the economy and the competition they face, Iím glad that I started out in what seemed a better time.
Iím not a pessimist nor do I believe that the world is about to come crashing down. I am, however, a realist. Like many in the job market today, our three are hard working. Still, Iím fairly certain that theyíre going to have it a lot tougher than my wife and I ever had it.
And, one morning a few days ago, I just happened to be thinking about all of this.
I thought about it because I could still remember what it felt like to be at the starting line of a life that seemed to offer promise no matter where you looked - if you were willing to work for it..
So, what did Roy Orbison have to do with all of this?
On that quiet morning, he just happened to open the door to memories of a time when things seemed much more certain.
I think that those of you who remember him will understand what I mean.