Somehow, I didn’t expect to be here. The other evening Judy and I got home from a fun dinner out with friends when a neighbor knocked at the door, inviting us to come over to his house. It was a fine evening, the sun was setting and the sliver of a new moon was right behind it. This would be interesting, I thought.
At dinner we had talked about how different retirement turned out to be, compared to what we had expected. Looking back, neither of us really had much of an idea what to expect when I quit doing what I had done for almost forty years. When I walked out the door from IBM that December day three years ago I entered a new world. Unknown, it turns out.
Our friend Paul retired about ten years ago. Soon after he quit work, I asked him what he found to do all day, since he had involuntarily retired early. He asked if I had ever hurried home from work to mow the lawn before sitting down to a quick supper. Well, duh! That’s how you do it, I thought. His routine had changed. Now it could take all day to mow the yard, depending on what else was on the calendar.
Was that what I had expected when I walked away from IBM into a winter blizzard?
Forty years earlier I had walked into that same IBM door to start a new career. Nothing anyone had told me fully prepared me for the excitement and drama of working for corporate America. Every year at IBM there was a new challenge, until at the end it became a challenge to keep up enough excitement to stay around.
After turning in my badge in the early winter of 2012, I thought my days would be different, but when I look back at it, I had no clue about what was about to happen. Since that cold day, our days are full of grand children, excitement and drama. This North Dakota boy who grew up in a house with absolutely no music now works with an Irish band, with gigs several times each month, and a CD release in progress.
Not long ago, serendipity struck again when a neighbor called out to me as I sat on the porch sipping a fine single malt whisky. “Can you help me learn English?” he asked. Not knowing what to expect, but knowing darned well that this would be exciting, I quickly agreed to help. Now on the summer evening, just before sundown, came that knock on the door. The same neighbor, having learned a little more English, asked us to come to his house … quickly!
That’s when this North Dakota Lutheran and his Lutheran wife ended up at the table with a handful of Muslims breaking the fast at sundown on one of the first days of Ramadan. He served samosas, a lamb stew, khubz, and more! Everything was incredible! Even after our big dinner with friends, this genuine Saudi food enticed us and drew us in to a struggling conversation with friends who spoke a language Judy and I didn’t understand.
We had a quick meal, as the larger group of men had to get to prayers, allowing us a quick exit to figure out what had just happened.
Another day, another surprise. Better yet, this was a pleasant surprise. These poor kids from Dakota ended up sharing a meal with well to do people from a far off land. I didn’t know what to expect, and it still surprises me every day. Yesterday I didn’t know how tomorrow could be better. Today was better than yesterday. I don’t know how tomorrow could be any better.
When serendipity knocks at the door tomorrow, I might have to cancel an existing appointment to find a whole new experience.