A somber entry for the countdown to 50.
34. I dated a man once who found my attitude about life to be somewhat of an anomaly.
He was a Dave Ramsey super-fan: at the age of 56, he was completely debt-free. No mortgage, no car payment, no credit cards. He made close to six figures and considered himself “poor” because he put 14 percent of his income in his 401k and allowed himself XX amount of money each week for groceries and fun. The rest – a sizable chunk – went into savings and CDs (the money kind, not the music kind).
To be honest, it was kind of cool. His plan was to have a million or more when he retired so he could really enjoy himself and not sweat it. I’ve no doubts he’ll make it.
The down side is that he didn’t really let himself have fun. He could have easily enjoyed a movie every now and then. He was a die-hard hockey fan but only allowed himself 2-3 RoughRiders games a season – and was holding on to dreams of professional hockey games for retirement, even though we live just three hours from the Chicago Blackhawks.
On a smaller scale, he wasn’t a fan of going to hometown festivals – while the events themselves were mostly free, you’d have to pay to eat, or to drink, and he just didn’t see the point.
That was where we were different. I not only see the point, I live for it.
What he couldn’t understand about me was that, while I do have a pension plan (as a state employee I’m enrolled in the Iowa Public Employee Retirement System – IPERS – and get to control how much goes in, kind of), I also want to enjoy today, the time leading up to retirement.
I’ve always been kind of a “seize the day” kind of girl, and the older I get the more I feel that way. Life is short – you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month. Planning for the future is great – but enjoy the trip while you’re getting there. I don’t want my younger years to be spent not making memories, not laughing, not experiencing different things. I diet, but I don’t keep myself from splurging. Eat the cake, taste the doughnut. Live a little.
I saw a Facebook post from a high school friend this morning that made this even more important. He and his wife adored each other – you could see it in every photo and in every post. It was a second marriage for both, but their families blended almost seamlessly. They stuck up for each other in everything they did, and she rooted him on tirelessly when he and I bet on the Broncos-Chiefs rivalry a few years ago (he won).
Today my friend posted that his wife passed away unexpectedly this morning, and they’re unsure of the cause. The post took my breath away. I’d never met her, but I enjoyed watching the relationship she and my friend had. My heart hurts for him and all of their children and grandchildren.
They planned for retirement, too. They made plans for the future.
Life is short, friends. Eat the damned cake.