“I can’t even get him to have lunch with me.”

A friend of mine recently stepped down as CEO of a large health organization. Now, he was calling me to lament over the loss of buzz in his life. He figured that, once his retirement hoopla had wound down, he would become a hot commodity in the consulting arena.




He waited for his telephone to ring, his emails to stack up with intriguing requests for his services. Instead, he was greeted by lonely lunches of Campbell’s chicken soup and meaningless treks to the bank and post office.

A sliver of the “ungrateful me” wants to gloat over the ostracism he is feeling. I want to remind him of all the years of smug advice he parceled out to me as I was constantly restarting my career. My friend had treated his retirement planning as laborious preparation to capture the golden trophy for an AARP Life Survival Contest.

Fortunately, the “better me” emerges and I share a few stories of my disappointments with false expectations. After all, I have a huge stockpile to draw from.

“Cliff,” I say, “Those people you worked with were not adjusting their schedules to accommodate you. They were sucking up to the CEO. Now, you’re stuck with real pals like me, your spoiled dog, Pluto, and those fabulous grandkids who still think you can fish.”

Cliff’s call reminds me how a joyous life is all about our ability to change, to adjust to new circumstances and wrap our minds around emerging opportunities. Often, my reality of today is difficult to separate from my visions of the past. I sometimes think I am the “me” of a decade ago. I look in the mirror expecting to see a man with darker hair and smaller ears.

Cliff is in that middle ground we all have experienced. A big shift takes place in our lives and we need some time for our expectations and behaviors to catch up with the new reality. Friends can help.

I bet Cliff and Pluto are free for an “mm mm good” lunch today.