Saturday, September 10, 2005


I retired for the second time last week.

My first retirement was 5 years ago. I retired from my job as a senior manager with a multinational corporation. I had been there for almost 30 years and was tired of the constant travel and corporate politics. It was the kind of company that wanted to keep promoting younger people and at the ripe old age of 53 it was clear that they thought I was over the hill.

The trigger that made me eventually decide to chuck it in 5 years ago was hearing that a sailing buddy was going to spend his summer helping out with a junior sailing program. My first reaction was intense jealousy. He's going to be out in the fresh air sailing with kids all summer and I'm going to be stuck in an office and riding cramped airplanes and dealing with all these idiots trying to screw me over??

That's when it dawned on me that what I really wanted to do was to cash in my pension and go live the dream. Teach sailing in the summer and sail as much as I could for the rest of the year. So I did.

This is the sixth summer that I have spent my weeks teaching kids to sail. Three years each at two separate programs. It has been a whole load of fun and the memories of all those kids will live with me for a long time.

But last week I told the yacht club that I work for that I'm not coming back next year. Of course they wanted to know why.

I could have said that after six years I feel like a break. That I want the freedom in the summers to travel to long regattas and visit other places. Even that I am afraid that I am running out of new ideas to keep their sailing program fresh and alive and developing and that they need a new face. That what was exciting to me in the first year I worked there may well feel like more of a chore next year. Or that while most of the kids are wonderful, some are badly behaved and although I know exactly how to straighten them out there's not much fun in that part of the job. All of the above are true to some extent but it's hard to say any of those things without it sounding like a criticism of the club, the program or the kids. And they would only try and argue about the reasons and try and persuade me to stay.

So I gave them a reason that is another part of the truth. That my wife and I have been planning for some time to sell our big old family home and move to something smaller. And that for some time we have been thinking of moving to another state (coincidentally a great area for sailing) to be nearer our eldest son and his wife. And that we have decided that now is the time to do it because our first grandchild is on the way and we want to be nearer to him or her. We will be starting a new adventure, a new life in a new home in a new place. New sailors to meet. New regattas to go to.

So last week I retired for the second time. We're on our way.

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