In the opening scene, it was 5:00 a.m. in this elite complex of homes. Jed didn’t need his alarm to sound anymore…he would awaken automatically. As soon as he sat on the edge of the bed his thoughts began to range to the kind of day that lay ahead of him. While turning on the coffee and drinking his juice he went through the myriad of events that he needed to attend to during the course of his day. He would become upset if the morning paper was not yet delivered because he always read it while eating his breakfast. Jed, now in his mid-fifties, has been the CEO of a large corporation for thirteen years now. He was popular with his staff and mainline employees as well as being very active in community affairs. There were times when he thought about an early retirement but then, he rationalized, his busy schedule is what “keeps me young”. The main objection that he had, though, was that there just weren’t enough hours in the day.
He and his wife, Mary, of twenty-four years were about to celebrate a quarter century of their relationship. She had pleaded with him to take the time off from work to travel abroad…something which she had been asking about for several years since their children were self-sufficient. The arrangements were made but other priorities cropped up which needed his attention so he chose to cancel the trip. Oh, he felt guilty enough but receiving the award for Distinctive Community Service had to take precedence. His wife, a quiet, soft-spoken, thoughtful and attractive woman, had pretty much raised their three children and took responsibility for being at all of their academic and sporting events and although he was able to make a few of them, she by-and-large was the parental representative. Their eldest child, Jed, Jr., was away at college and Jed complained of his not taking the time to even call his father. His two other children were very active sports enthusiasts and barely saw their father because their schedules would often conflict.
The family lived in a very comfortable, recently built home on a golf course and only minutes away from the Ocean. Mary was responsible for choosing all of the items and colors for the home since Jed didn’t have the time to spend on such matters. That same issue of time came into play in his daily routine in dealing with his Staff and mainline employees. Although popular, he always appeared rushed and oftentimes had to cut meetings short because of other commitments. People joked about his portrayal of a non-stop executive while comparing it to the rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland” who would exclaim “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date…no time to say hello…goodbye…I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” Jed thrived on that reputation believing that it added to his sense of importance and status as a business executive.
Now Jed’s very busy schedule took him away from home much of the time resulted in his eating most of his meals in restaurants often eating foods that weren’t very healthy. There was little time in his busy schedule for him to work out and the mid-life paunch was becoming more noticeable. In his yearly physicals, which were mandated by corporate policy and not necessarily of his choosing, the physician warned him repeatedly that the stress under which he lived in combination with his diet and lack of exercise could one day become a major factor in his health. In fact, the doctor warned that he was a prime candidate for a heart attack or stroke. Although Jed would acknowledge the points that were being made by the physician, he would just as quickly dismiss them because of the time element involved in developing a healthy lifestyle. He played golf to win, only played as part of an obligation to his business constituents and would become very upset with himself if he made a mistake. Jed was a perfectionist and had a great deal of difficulty when he might make a mistake. He would become angry with himself and, at times, would berate himself for having been “so stupid”. He didn’t have time to take lessons or enjoy the game. It seemed that everything in his life had to have a sense of purpose leaving little time for any type of enjoyment or relaxation.
And now, the scene switches to present day activities. Jed is now fifty-nine and is no longer the CEO of the company that he built from the ground floor. The Board of Directors informed him that they were no longer in need of his services and he was terminated. The reason behind his “early retirement” was the salary that he commanded being too high during a lull in the company’s profits and their being able to hire his Assistant as the new CEO at a much reduced salary.
Jed looks lost. His coloring seems ashen and he’s very depressed. He doesn’t know what to do with his time. His relationship with his wife had deteriorated to the point of their having a “marriage of convenience” with neither wishing to divorce but neither feeling any sense of closeness to the other. Mary had become accustomed to her husband’s absence and chose to become very active in hobbies and community affairs which kept her away from home a great deal. Now, there was no need to cook meals for the children so she seldom cooked anymore. Two of the children were now in college and the third was considering which college he wanted to attend. Money was not an issue. Jed had received a substantial severance upon his release from his duties and they could live out the rest of their lives without having to sacrifice their standard of living.
He had no really close personal friends. Most of his friends were really acquaintances that he developed in the business realm but that was over and done with. He had no sense of purpose anymore. He had all the time in the world to do whatever he wanted but there was nothing that appealed to him. He felt alone…abandoned…afraid…depressed. Always an independent thinker, he would never admit there was a problem that he couldn’t solve and would seldom seek help for anything…certainly not for any personal issues. That would suggest a point of weakness which he made sure would never be manifested. But the pressure of his present-day plight moved him in a different direction.
He made a call to a resource that dealt with retirement issues and talked with a professional regarding his situation. It took some while but with focus and concentration on what steps he needed to take to rebuild his life, he gradually came around to a new way of thinking, feeling and living. It included learning how to deal with leisure time, setting up an exercise routine, working on his marital relationship, socializing and making personal and couples’ friends and, most importantly, learning how to relax. As the benefits of his work became reality, there were many changes that occurred that were welcomed by his wife and family. He, himself, was amazed at his newfound way of life and would often recall the lifestyle he had been into for all those many preceding years. Those moods didn’t last long though because he didn’t have the time to fret about the past. There was too much to do in the future to waste time on that kind of thinking.
(30 October 2013)
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.