A baby boomer in San Diego is selling his house. He tells his neighbor that he and his wife want to travel. He shares that they are buying a small place in Arizona in an over-55 community.
He mentions to his neighbor that it is time to downsize and think about the remainder of his life.
On the surface, this sounds sensible and has all the characteristics of what many baby boomers are thinking at this stage of life.
But as the neighbor listens closely, he begins to notice a crack in the armor, as if there is more to the story. The observation of the neighbor, an astute listener, is correct, for beyond the life plan, is the life tragedy.
This man looks gaunt; his once athletic physique has been replaced by a frail frame. As the neighbor looked closely at his friend, it struck him that he appeared to be aging before his eyes.
This is the story of many boomers who worked hard, saved their money, achieved success, and waited to truly enjoy life. This is the story of tomorrow, but tomorrow never came. This is the story of “we will get around to it later,” but they did not.
In some ways this story of the neighbor who now spends his vacations at Mayo Clinic is a metaphor for the baby boomer travel itinerary.
It reminds us of the boomer mantra, “Don't put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.” On some levels as one neighbor looks at the other, this is a baby boomer story.
It is about two educated men who watched the Carter campaign for president unfold while they were in college. It is about two men who recall seeing Notre Dame trounce Northwestern in football, and who both came to business prominence during the Reagan revolution.
For many years as neighbors, they liked to talk through the headlines of The Wall Street Journal, debating the ebb and flow of the stock market and later the analysis of retirement planning. But on this day, the fatal day, the sign went up, the house is in escrow, and change is in the air.
Soon one man will have a new neighbor and the other man will spend his time wondering about treatment to keep himself alive. One man, as he hopes for years to come, will think about his friend who now has no timetable, for his friend’s life is day to day.
There is no silver lining to close out this story, but only reflection — for, as "old timers" like to say, “You only have one life to live. Don’t waste it because you just don't know what curves are in store for you during this journey.”
Rick Bava founded and was CEO of the Bava Group, which became the premier communications consulting firm serving the Fortune 500 community. Bava became known for his popular blog columns “Rick Bava on the Baby Boomer Generation.” He is the author of "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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