When Farris Bryant, Ocala’s favorite son, ran for the governorship, I was a volunteer in his campaign; and, when elected, he invited me to serve as his page during the 1960 legislative session. Since my brother worked for Governor Bryant and I had a place to stay and the state provided educational classes for pages, my parents agreed to let me serve.
My first task in Tallahassee was to complete an employment application in order to be paid. When asked by the payroll clerk, I explained that I didn’t have a Social Security number and he informed me that if I wanted to get paid, I had to get one. He gave me directions to the local office of the social security administration and by the end of the day I was in possession of a social security card and number.
For 48 years, that number has appeared on employment applications, payroll reports and income tax returns. When I tried to use the card to get into the Peppermint Lounge in New York City, the bouncer threw me out by my collar and back of my pants; my employer at the Pizza Inn where I made pizzas while in college had it; the Army used it to report my pay and as my ID number; the number appears on the records of my father’s company and now here, at FBMA.
All the years of paying into the system for some reason I never thought about taking money out. It was just another tax, especially during the times that I was self-employed. That is until today, when I read this opening sentence of a notice from the Social Security Administration, “Our records indicate that you will soon be considering retirement.”
Retirement! Heck I’m too young to be considering retirement; I have too many things to do; that’s for old guys, not me. Besides, even if I wanted to retire, last fall’s financial melt down put that on hold until a long time in the future.
The beginning of each decade of our lives brings a unique shock: the 20’s, entering the workforce; the 30’s, fatherhood; the 40’s, power and responsibility; the 50’s, the first AARP notice and the 60’s, the Social Security Administration notice about retirement. When asked, what surprised him most about life, Billy Graham answered, “How fast it goes by.” That’s quite accurate; yesterday, I was applying for a social security number and today, they are informing me of my benefits.
What’s that ad? “Life comes at you fast.” The correct wording should be, “Life goes past you fast.” Because life goes by so fast, we cannot afford the time to live in the past, to dwell on the problems of today or to fear the future. Afterall, we can’t change yesterday, today’s problems will be history tomorrow, and tomorrow we will be in the future we looked towards today.
“Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence — neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish — it is an imponderably valuable gift.” – Maya Angelou
“Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life.” – Norton Juster