Monday, November 27, 2006

40th Year High School Reunion

A couple of months ago, I served as the chair of my high school's 40th year reunion. It was a great occasion, following many earlier reunions, and all of us enjoyed seeing each other again. In the planning of this reunion, I spoke with many of my classmates about what I was beginning to experience as a recent retiree.

After decades of work in nonprofits and government providing what is often referred to being in "health and human services", my wife and I are both now retired. We found the means to obtain complete retirement packages, and now live in a remodeled dream house, in a lifestyle well within our means. I continue to serve on a couple of nonprofit boards of directors, and contribute a significant portion of our income to social change and charitable organizations.

What I did for a living has always been a great part of how I defined the "goodness" in myself. I have always chosen my jobs and projects because I could see that they directly improved other people's lives. Despite sometimes frustrating bureaucracies and limited successes, I took satisfaction from the work I did.

But I have found myself questioning how much "good" I am doing - in my new, retired life. Is it enough for me to volunteer where I can, and make some donations. That leaves a lot of time for golf, and for all the toys I've wanted. I'm also wrestling with the question of how I evaluate what to expect of myself. Isn't retirement the time for me to set some new standards with which to hold myself accountable?

I have the feeling that the generation that grew up with its President's charge to "do for your country" will now have a hard time in the transition to retirement. I don't think that I'm the only boomer that is going to need help searching for a new balance of being good and rich.
Yes, I know it's a bit much to see my photo twice on this first page of my new blog, but my use of the new Beta version of Google's Blogger made it unavoidable. My picture isn't posted anywhere else, and Google's Picasa2-linked Hello program won't login to the new Beta version to upload photos yet.

Oh well. I promise to post some text to move it out of your view soon.