It’s the height of hubris to think anyone cares enough about my life—or anyone’s life— to conspire to shape it. But it tickles me to imagine that there is a conspiracy to keep me from retiring. Not that I’m longing for it or even thinking about it beyond the questions that come my way when people know my age. But if I imagine my life beyond walking the halls of this school, there is so much that will be missing.
Like the way a three-year old today spotted me passing by and jumped out of her seat to shout “Doug!!!” Five minutes earlier, most of my 8th grade class said spontaneously “Thank you” on their way out from a class where I read part of Louis Armstrong’s autobiography and we discussed his remarkable life. And then there’s the unbroken string of Halloween songs with 100 children, so powerful, so joyful, so musical! And as if that weren’t enough, two different groups of 4th graders stunned me with some of the most expressive movement I’ve had the pleasure to witness. Is this a conspiracy to keep me at school forever?
Who will do these things in my post-retirement life? Where will I find a group ready, willing and able to sing ten Halloween songs with me? Where I can find people interested—or at least willing to consider their interest—in Louis Armstrong’s life story? Who will pop out of their stores when I pass by on Irving Street and shout “Doug!” Who will I shout out to? Who would consider throwing aside their lifetime of armored protection and dance madly, wildly, joyfully? Could that happen in Aisle 4 of Walmart?
If this is a conspiracy, so what? It's working. Me, I’m stayin’ put.