Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who's going to fill their shoes?

A group of us are retiring in late April. These are colleagues that I've worked with for many years--ever since I started my professional career. Their leaving is going to leave a void of a kind here. Many of the newer staff probably don't know who these people are or their contributions.

I'm equally guilty of not knowing who many of the new people are. When we were all just hired out of graduate school and full of self-importance, the night oil would be burning in the building. I would think nothing about staying until 9 or 10 PM to work on data, manuscripts, or other projects. My wife and I would also devote much of our weekend to working in the lab. That lasted for about ten years for me. Even on those days that we didn't come back in after dinner or on the weekends, we would talk about our work, discussing science and how to do it better.

The working of a lot of extra hours ended when we built our house in the country. We were no longer just five minutes from work but 40 minutes away. Yet, we continued to talk about work, what was wrong with the administration, and what our solution was. This was all pre-recovery talk. And sometimes we would have arguments with each other over differing views. We were driven in so many ways.

In the last three years, my wife and a bunch of "old timers" from work have retired. Their void has been filled with new Ph.D's who put away their pens and shut down their computers at the end of the day, not to return until the next morning.

Personally, I think that their approach is healthy. At this job, we all spend a lot of extra hours doing field work that revolves around the tides, or being on research vessels for several weeks at a time. It's part of being a scientist. So, it's okay with me to live a life filled with other things than work.

When my contemporaries and I retire, there will be other fresh faces to fill our shoes. I hope that they are filled with passion for the work that they do. But I also hope that they have a balanced life that is filled with hobbies, family, relaxation, and simple enjoyment of being. I'm grateful for those things in my life today.


  1. Love your post -- some of the best moments of my life were the times I was able to exhale.

    What is your profession?


  2. Its that whole circle of life thing at work... literally. The young will grow and replace the old and learn and do and be, until they to are replaced.

    We each get our time here, and filling it with the best life can offer seems to make the most sense to me.

  3. Syd,
    I think it was really a blessing for you to do something you have loved doing so much. I wish I could find that niche for myself. I envy you that.

    My grandpa was a barnstormer/aviation pioneer (his pilot's license was signed by Orville Wright and he sold planes to the likes of Al Capone and Howard Hughes). Truth be told, I think he loved flying more than being with his family.

    I wish you the best.

    Love, SB.

  4. Without the spiritual principals of Alanon, I would never have had the courage to welcome change into my life. May your upcoming voyage be a calm one with lots of changing scenery!


  5. This is exactly how it is with my daughter. She had a BA and great paying job at 22 years old. She quit because of the stifling bureaucracy and they wanted her to work overtime.

    She went back for another degree, then decided to get her PhD. She is focused on doing meaningful work, not just making money. Her leisure time is very important to her.

    When I started out I put in long hours, and worked holidays and week ends.

    I respect my daughter's attitude. She knows what life's priories are.

  6. a 'spiritual life' means i notice all the people that badly need help. not just alcohics. when you realise what a great gift we have, I see a need for it everywhere. on comittees, on charity boards. all volunteer work where sane people are extremeely valuable. then there are the kids from underprivelded homes who want mentoring, and the old people who need a weekly visit. and the homeless.
    there are charities catering for all these weekly comitments of time on my doorstep but I ont have time at the moment. but basically, there is always endless valuable service out there, its just its not paid work :)
    so by all means retire, but you may soon discover equally demanding but unpaid work on your doostep. :)
    who knows write a book?, become a painter or go full tilt into the photgraphy. or perhaps do nothing. but its so easy to fill up ones time! well thats what i find..

  7. This is one of my all time weakness's, knowing when to play and when to work. It is soley because I love my work & it's non confrontational. I sew to relieve stress from a disease for which I have no control over. I sew for serenity. I am lucky I can work from home but then, sometimes, home wants to be away from work. It's a conundrum you've brought back up in my life... LOL. I am trying very hard to balance which basically is splatter talk for, i'm not doing a good job of it. :)

    Silly syd has cracked my work code!!

  8. Passion in all you do -- not just work -- would be a nice life goal. Hopefully some sort of balance could be struck from that.

    I was one of those burning the midnight oil people in the business world. It consumed me and it might not have been so bad if it had been my passion. I might have known it wasn't if I'd had some sort of outside life. It's all life lessons, though. I'm glad I learned it and have had this second half of my thirties be such a great period of discovery for me.

  9. I like my job Syd, but thats what it stays something to fill my day and give me a by product of money.
    It would be good to enjoy ur job so much to love doing it, i dont think I love it that much though.
    Good to be back and refreshed after two weeks away from work, monday is going to be a hard day...
    Still one day at a time

  10. When the young guys and gals stop working "so much" like we did, are they going to only work an hour or two a day?

  11. Balance in my every day life is something I'm still working on.
    It's better than sitting on a barstool and being "off balance".

  12. I think it's great that you're going to have a chance to transition to something else in your life. As a result of the consequences of my choices and the "luck" that I've had (or not had), my plan is to just work until I can't anymore and then see what opens next.

    Yours sounds like a lovely path (all of it) but I'm sure you've had your challenges to grow through.

    Blessings and aloha...

  13. ...and the beat goes on. Why is that a familiar phrase to me?

  14. Here is a thing about kid mentoring they do here but i havent tried it

    and heres an online volunteer place with extensive jobs

    See? it never ends!! but yeah you need time for yourself as well.. :)

  15. Funny, but somehow I never pictured you or your wife as "old-timers"! Change can be good, if we are spiritually fit. God makes that possible.

  16. yes, there is something to that 'all work and no play' thing. balance is needed...

  17. In my industry we talk about the "young ones" coming in all the time. They don't seem as stressed as we were when we were young or driven.
    When I go on the side of our building where the scientists reside I have to preface every question with "I don't want to a long drawn out story on how the earth rotates on its' axis" I just need to ask a tiny question then go on with my life.

  18. This generation of 20 somethings, combined with technology, are bringing a work/life balance to corporations that is going to change the workplace. Everybody wants to work on a laptop while sitting on a beach or in a Starbucks. It sure beats cubicles.

  19. Recently I have run into so many people that say, "Let me ask you a question." They then ask the question they had in mind. This makes me crazy. Just ask the question. This has nothing to do with your post, it's just that Pam's comment triggered me.

    You have left your contribution, in your time and in your way. I bet every generation of retirees has similar thoughts as yours.

  20. What a beautiful post for today and for yesterday. I love "spiritual Bondo!" Your serenity is showing! Love it, love it, love it. thank you , thank you, thank you! J.


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