There I go, turn the page
Originally published February 17, 2019
In January I saw Bob Seger in concert. Although he still sings of being young and restless and bored, Bob is older, rested and energized. He sang hit after hit for two hours, moving back and forth across the stage, swaying, and dancing, arms raised above his head, pulling the crowd into the show. No obvious evidence of the spinal surgery that interrupted the tour. Most of us in the arena were like Bob, our hair shorter and grayer, our bodies bearing the scars of our own surgeries, and our faces creased by the tracks of time.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Seger is the poet laureate for anyone trapped in a cubicle or chained to an assembly line. The words and the stories of his songs become theirs. And the meaning of those stories have changed with time. The Night Moves of decades ago are now late night trips to the bathroom. The "you" it would be hard to live our lives without are the cheaters we need to read the menu. One woman who gently and slowly climbed the stairs to her seat in an upper row proudly proclaimed, “I had both my knees replaced in August.”
After performing for 58 years, this working man didn’t announce a retirement. Bob shared his age with the audience, 73, and confirmed this was his final tour. He said next year he might be a wedding singer and added, “Keep me in mind.” I believe his message was even though the tours would stop he wasn’t heading into a traditional retirement.
The idea of retirement; calling it quits and walking away at 60, 62 or even 65 is limiting and constricting. The average life expectancy in the United States is nearing 80 years old. If a person reaches age 65, they are likely to live to age 85. Like Seger’s notion of being a wedding singer, there’s more to life after traditional retirement than golf courses, fishing lakes, scrapbooking conventions, cruise ships, and RV parks. There’s a message in Seger’s songs for those of us looking to go the distance.
The letters in bold are Bob's; the others are mine.
We have deadlines and commitments. For decades it was our job to work the fields every workday, have a picnic every Labor Day. But with autumn closing in those days can change. Above all the lights of the day to day, up those twisting turning roads of life’s journey, is a place where some men never go. They remain just another spoke in a great big wheel. But time doesn’t stop, and all too soon we'll wonder, twenty years now, where’d they go?
When we reminisce about the days of old, do we consider the potential of the years ahead? Too many people delay their dreams with the pacifying promise that if I ever get out of here, that's what I'm gonna do. Too many never take that long shot gamble. But those that do all have one thing in common. They got the fire down below.
The road to my next chapter lies somewhere ahead. When it gets here, it might be the hardest thing I’ll ever do, but I’m looking forward to the chance to turn the page. Maybe I’ll leave them whispering in my wake, Joe’s run off to fire lake.