Saturday, July 28, 2012

Challenges of a Lifetime

Remember my college classmate Susan Orkin, who, unlike so many of us reported  feeling no guilt about simply enjoying herself?
The more she and I talk about transition issues, the clearer she becomes about what she is doing and why. And it turns out she isn’t simply,  la-di-da, enjoying French classes and the great classics, concerts, and piano lessons.  Like being on some kind of longterm vacation.
Instead, Susan calls it a journey of “learning and self-improvement” – one that she’s been on all her life.  But now that she has the time, she’s taking it to a new level and is challenging herself in ways she hasn’t before.
So here’s her news: after returning to her love of the piano – taking classes and practicing a couple of hours a day --  she had the courage to try out for a chamber music group – something she’d never done before. And she’s in!
But rising to a “challenge” is not how she would frame it.
 “I just have such an insatiable curiosity about everything and, some kind of feeling that I want to better understand the world/our place in it,” she wrote me. “I never feel I have enough time to do all I want to do/learn all I want to learn, get some grip on the big questions...
 I am thrilled that I have the time now to set my own curriculum, in a sense. That said, piano has become a bit of a passion….
But implicit in your take is that one must be on a quest or challenging oneself. I am thrilled by the feeling of increasing mastery and overcoming my inhibitions to play for an audience and with other people, but what if I just loved it and played only for myself?
 I am so glad that I didn't feel I had to do " the next big thing" which might have been trying to find a challenging volunteer role in my field or something like Renew because then I never would have moved into music.
Go Susan!
For me, having constant challenges is what makes me feel alive, whether climbing Mt. Lafayette, as we did last week or trying to keep you engaged in this blog. Am I just competitive? Competing with myself?
Are challenges what drive you?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rick Rescues the Damsel in Distress

Rick Cooper rescued me.  And he plans to keep on rescuing folks for quite some time.  Maybe until he's 125 years old.
At an age when many are kicking back, Rick has returned to a childhood hobby  --  playing with locks.
Rick Cooper--forward to the past

We’re not talking hair.
It was about 10.30 p.m. on a dark and fortunately not stormy night when Rick Cooper showed up in my life. I was alone and upset, standing outside a rural New Hampshire condo, my key spinning around uselessly in the lock.  Where would I go? Where would I sleep? What about all the ice cream in my car?
Rick, of Gate Keeper Lock Safe, pulled up,  a headlamp attached to his forehead and an arsenal of break-in devices in his truck. When no amount of jiggling would work, this white-haired gentleman took out his toughest drill bits and blasted away.
The next day,  back with new locks, he told me about his life transition.
For many years, he had worked as manager of recycling for Walpole, N.H., where he pioneered markets for small towns that had until then been dumping.
Then, at 65 1/2, he came up for retirement. “I knew that I could not go home and just do home  projects.  I had lots of them -- still have lots of them—but 18 months to two years later, I knew I would get footloose and fancy free,”  grabbing “the first thing that came down the road and get into a mess of trouble.”
So he wanted a plan. Hearing about a one-man locksmith shop for sale, he realized, "This was something I always wanted to do. Even as a kid.”
Three years later, he’s grown the business to five, including himself and two other locksmiths on the road.
"Let me tell you my philosophy," he said.  "I’m middle aged. I believe that I will live to about 125. The reason I believe that? When I was young, 65 or 70 was genuinely old and 100 was so old it was hardly heard about,” he explained. “Today, 100 is nothing!
“There’s no reason in the world why we can’t at least shoot for 125.
Rick's wife retired from teaching last week. The job had become a lot less fun. Rick's  not sure what she will do for all those many years that he is convinced are awaiting them.