At this stage of late middle-age (around 60 years old), the guy with the graying hair said he didn't want any new friends. He had his cronies, who he played golf and cards with. He had a couple of friends to meet at the local tavern to enjoy a beer or two and watch the Yankees on TV.
As he saw it, he was all set. He had his routine; he was going to retire in about five years, according to his estimate. He drove one way to work, ate lunch daily at the same diner and always watched the Golf Channel on Mondays for swing tips.
The guy with the graying hair thought his life was on cruise control, and he was coasting to the finish line. But a funny thing happened on the way to his retirement -- call it change.
One of his cronies was diagnosed with a serious heart problem, and needed major surgery that knocked him out of the golf and tavern rotation. Then the diner, which had been in business for more than 40 years, closed because the landlord was selling the building.
If that wasn't bad enough, his girlfriend said she was sick of their routine lives and wanted to spend more time together, go on trips, go the theater, or a museum or two -- be more committed. In addition, the cat had a stomach blockage that would require expensive surgery. Whoa. ... What's going on here?
All these demands and changes were threatening his routine. He didn't like that.
Here's the issue -- life demands change, regardless of what stage of life you're at, and most of us don't like it. In fact, the only person who likes change is a baby in a wet diaper.
To tell the truth, life is change. Routine is an illusion. It makes me cringe when I hear someone greet a person and ask what's new and he answers "Same old, same old."
It simply isn't the same old, same old anything. Chances are that you're missing all the change around you, which makes you feel that your life is a routine headed down a prescribed path that you've determined. If that were truly so, life would be a bore.
The antidote to boredom is being aware; the Buddhists call it mindfulness, which is living with complete awareness of everything swirling around you.
Some philosophers argue that people would prefer to bury their heads in the sand, reducing life to a simple formula. It just ain't so.
Joseph Campbell, the writer and philosopher, said: "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
So what is he saying? Do we abandon our plan and float in the wind like an autumn leaf? Hardly. It's necessary to have a plan and follow it as much as possible. But be aware the randomness of the universe will have something to say about your plan.
In fact, Isaac Bashevis Singer, the great writer, once said if you want to make God laugh, make a plan.
In some way, change is inherent to life and we need to accept it, follow it and roll with it. It can often lead to wonderful and exciting new places.
For example, I remember I was working as a director of communications for a university. I liked the job, the pay was good and I could see myself moving up the ladder of college administration.
Suddenly, the university had financial issues and laid off 30 staff -- primarily based on salary. The more you were paid, the more likely you were to go. I went.
Stunned, I drove home, thinking how I was going to pay the mortgage and raise a family.
For a few hours I was numb, until I realized that maybe something good could come from this. I always had wanted to give freelance writing a try, but was too timid to take the plunge.
Now I didn't need to plunge, life had pushed me off the edge of the diving board, and I needed to take action in response to my drastic change in fortune.
Within days, I was working on writing assignments. Within weeks, I was hitting my stride, and within months, I was earning more money than I did at my previous job.
I had changed my course drastically, and had steered into a better place.
It's clear that change is frightening -- routine creates the illusion of security. But as many of discovered when the economic recession hit in 2008, jobs, homes, investments and retirement accounts were evaporating.
The solid foundation (or so we thought) that many of us had worked hard to build was crumbling.
Being open to change and not walling yourself off from new friends or different interests and behaviors can lead you to places you never imagined, regardless of your age.
Frank Szivos is a freelance writer who enjoys the thrill of change in his life. He can be reached at email@example.com.