Saturday, September 03, 2016

A Matter of Time

Preparing for retirement inevitably brings up questions of time: When will you retire? How long will your retirement last? How long do you have to prepare? Often we don’t take advantage of the time we have, and sometimes we don’t have the time we thought we would.

It was just five years ago this week that my wife and I, having just deposited my youngest off for his first semester of college, spent our drive home up the East Coast with Hurricane Irene (and the reports of her potential destruction and probable landfalls) close behind.

We arrived home, unloaded in record time, and went straight to the local hardware store to stock up for the coming storm. As you might imagine, we weren’t the only ones to do so. And what we had most hoped to acquire (a generator) was not to be found — there, or at that moment, apparently anywhere in the Nutmeg State.

What made that situation all the more infuriating was that, while the prospect of a hurricane landfall in Connecticut was relatively unique, we had, on several prior occasions, been without power, and for extended periods. After each I had told myself that we really needed to invest in a generator — but, as human beings are inclined to do, thinking that I had plenty of time to do so (and when it was more convenient), I simply (and repeatedly) postponed taking action.

That uncertainty came home in a very different way to me this past week, with word of the passing of a colleague, just 55. She had spoken of retiring “early” so as to be able to spend more time with her young daughter — hoping to catch up on some of the family time she had perhaps missed due to the obligations of a professional career, or maybe just doing some of the relaxing and travelling that always seem to fall prey to the pressures of everyday life. Tragically, while riding her bike, of all things, this dear lady — a two-time cancer survivor — was struck and killed by a car.

We never know how much time we’ll have — to work, to live, to save, to prepare for the time we have left, to say and do the things we always mean to say and do.

Ultimately, of course, what matters isn’t the time you have, it’s what you do with it.

- Nevin E. Adams, JD

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