Monday, December 12, 2011
The Elephant Graveyard – What is your retirement plan?
A couple of years back, I had a job assignment that allowed us to go on a safari adventure in Tanzania and Kenya. On one of the outings, we were taken to the elephant graveyard. We had heard of such a place and had lots of questions about why and the like. Our Masai guide explained that elephants have seven sets of teeth that slowly wear out over their age span. As they are wearing down the last set, the older elephants move to an area that has lots of soft grasses that their deteriorating teeth can still chew.
Well, of course this had me thinking about what we would be doing in the retirement phase of our lives, as age deteriorated our abilities. That brought to mind my good friend and safety pioneer Dr. Dan Petersen who, when faced with his personal realities around such things as travel, stress, diet, exercise and the like, made major adjustments which allowed him to enjoy the latter years. More and more, he focused on what he could do, mental activity, rather than what he could not do. His activities went to such things as writing articles, a book and social networking. His choices were not about the next nap, or eating the grass in his limited pasture. They were about appropriate activities that could continue to bring a sense of accomplishment and engagement.
As I consider the decades past and the decades remaining, maybe there are seven seasons of life. Each of these decades seems to have a unique reality and focus. Where and how can you and I be value added, and enjoy the activities and contributions we can still do as we progress toward our eternity?