Discovering the Wisdom of a seven-year-old
By Richard Haiduck
Thanks for allowing me to be a guest blogger on Retirement Explored. Helene and Zaf and I are
committed to building a community and a conversation around the many wonderful aspects of
this time of our life.
When I was seven, I wanted to be an author. No doubt about it. Fireman? Test pilot? Those
careers had moments of interest, but never rose to more than a second choice.
My parents got me a writing pad, some #2 pencils, and a much needed eraser. I was off and
running towards being an author.
The stories started to flow. The stories were all fiction, with lots of sci-fi and imagined worlds,
with no story longer than one page. Lots of pats on the head from parents and teachers gave
plenty of encouragement to continue writing.
Then the writing stopped as quickly as it had started. I was a kid. I changed my mind. There
was no precipitating event, but just a moving on to friends and sports and other kid diversions.
The passion to be an author stopped for 65 years. I got busy getting an education, then having a
family and building a career. My creative writing was stone cold. Nothing happened on the
author front. Life experience and maybe even a bit of wisdom was accumulating. Better
listening skills evolved. The new skills were useful in my life, but not applied to writing.
As I got to retirement age, I phased down my biotech consulting business. I transitioned into an
active retirement that included family, travel, biking, reading, learning experiences at Stanford,
and after school tutoring of disadvantaged kids.
About this time, I began hearing fascinating things that my friends were doing in their
retirement. They reinvented themselves into a new set of activities that took advantage of the
freedoms associated with retirement. As they told me their stories, I found myself engaged with
their new interests. Some of these people I had known for years, but now they had taken on a
whole new persona. They also had a curiosity to know what I was up to, how I was spending my
time, and what activities were particularly satisfying. It dawned on me that these stories needed
to be shared.
Suddenly, the idea of being an author was like a breath of fresh air. It hit me. I could do this. I
could return to the aspiration that I had a seven-year-old. I would be an author, finally, and this
time without having to use #2 pencils and a note pad. There was a good topic, lots of people
expressed interest in these untold stories. It was personally interesting to me, I had the time, and
it was a new adventure to try.
It would be an interview based book. The starting point would be the friends and family who
were doing remarkable things. Referrals from initial interviewees broadened the range of stories.
Proactive methods were used to seek out additional specific topics. A sampling of the stories
selected for the book include:
Climbing Kilimanjaro after four leg surgeries
Living the RV life
Teaching Buddhist meditation to maximum security prisoners
Community volunteering after six months in a coma
Starting a ukulele club
Dealing with a divorce in the retirement years.
Further information can be found at www.richardhaiduck.com or follow me on twitter
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