“It is no surprise that for many people retirement is a fearful prospect. Who are we when there is nothing to keep us busy?” Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen
Not so many years ago retirement meant a gold watch and a sudden end to a life filled with purpose and a reason to get up each morning. Retirement today looks far different, even to those who have so much money they can spend their time doing anything they want. Ken Behring is in that category. In 2004 AARP magazine published an extensive article about him written by William R. Newcott.
“I’m 75,” Behring told him, but in essence “my life began just five years ago when I found a purpose. Before that, I’d had everything you could imagine, but something was missing.” Then one day a church representative who knew Behring did a lot of globe-hopping in his private jet, asked if he could deliver supplies to refugees in Kosovo and a dozen wheelchairs to Romania. He essentially said, sure why not.
When he delivered the wheelchairs he lifted a Romanian girl from the ground and sat her in one and that was the beginning of everything changing for him. He had never thought about wheelchairs before then, but afterward, he could think of little else. While he had always thought of them as confining, he discovered “they provide freedom, mobility, and opportunity.”
Behring subsequently started the Wheelchair Foundation and has made it his personal mission to provide a wheelchair for everyone on earth who needs one but can’t afford the cost. On June 13, 2015, the Foundation celebrated the delivery of the one-millionth wheelchair and as of this date they have committed or distributed 1,081,769.
Having a purpose to live for provided the satisfaction that had previously eluded Behring and it can do the same for you. There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities that cost nothing more than time and car fare, and hundreds more that provide both purpose and an opportunity to use your financial resources to make a difference in the world. The key to making retirement meaningful is to find a need that speaks to your soul and do what you can to fill it.
It is never too early to begin your search for that need.
Blessings on your efforts to find your purpose in life,