Perspective

“Retired,” says the LinkedIn profile of a law school classmate . “Retired!” I immediately write in my message to this man I haven’t seen in 30 years. “Not fair! I want to be retired. I’m jealous … you won.”

I’ve been longing to retire for at least a decade by now, to replace billable hours with something more enjoyable. Jealous he’d achieved that status before me, I thought back to the competition we’d had against one another through all three years of law school, taking turns being Number One. His LinkedIn profile seemed like a taunt — telling me that he had the final win.

He wrote back today. Yes, he said, he had retired. Because an illness had nearly killed him, and made him to sick to hold his job.

Oh.

I wish I could take back what I’d said. Instead I craft a reply that apologizes for my thoughtlessness, knowing that no matter what I say it will not be quite enough to make things right.

Now I know how lucky I am not to be retired, when not working is forced upon me by my body giving out. I feel both stupid and lucky, embarrassed and grateful. Fortunate to have the ability to work, terrible to hear of his illness, relieved he’s on the mend, and reminded that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

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