Mr. Roh had never imagined that retired life could be so fulfilling. He had held a senior post in a company, a job that involved hectic travelling and much socialising. “I just dreaded the thought of retirement,” he would say. “My job was my life! It kept me so, so busy! I thought I’d die of boredom the day I’d have to quit, when my company decided that I’d become too old for them and now considered me redundant.”
As he had feared, when he turned 70 and had to leave his job, Mr. Roh was at his wit’s end. “It was terrible—sitting at home, not knowing what to do with my time and myself, stuck to the TV for want of anything better,” he would explain. “I thought to myself, ‘I’ll probably go mad! Is this how it is going to be all the way till I drop dead?’”
Some months into his retirement Mr. Roh happened to be watching TV, flitting from channel to channel. Suddenly, he chanced upon a talk by a spiritual teacher. The topic that he was speaking on was “Retirement can be the happiest phase of your life’”.
Initially, Mr. Roh thought that the seemingly attractive topic was just a silly gimmick. After all, wasn’t he retired and utterly miserable? But as he listened carefully to the speaker, who cited anecdotes from the life of several retired people who were now leading amazingly meaningful lives, he thought there might be some truth in what the man was saying.
The crux of the speaker’s presentation was that one can lead a meaningful and enjoyable retired life through having a close personal relationship with God, spending time in prayer (which he defined as conversing with God) and serving God through serving God’s creatures (not just humans, but other beings too). If retired people used the time that God had blessed them with to do just these two things—worship and service—this phase of their life, he explained, might actually turn out to be the happiest and most fulfilling of all! These two things, he reminded his listeners, were also what counted in the Hereafter—the life after death.
So inspired by the talk was Mr. Roh that he decided to put into practice the two things that the speaker had suggested. And in just a few days, to his great surprise, it seemed to work like magic! Mr. Roh had never been so happy before! Thinking of God and engaging in acts of service helped get him off obsessing with himself and his problems, both real and imaginary.
Soon, worship and service became an integral part of Mr. Roh’s daily life. In fact, they were the centre around which his life now revolved. For someone who had never thought of God and who was obsessed only with his career, this was an almost unbelievable transformation!
Mr. Roh now spent much time in prayer every day, sometimes more than an hour at a stretch, chatting with God and sharing his joys and sorrows with Him (and even an occasional joke too!). He really loved doing that! During much of the rest of the day he would engage in acts of service—both big and small. Because of his age, he wasn’t very mobile and so couldn’t venture far from his home, but still he would find opportunities to serve. For instance, every morning, soon after prayers, he’d go down to the entrance of the block of apartments where he lived with a big flask of tea that he had himself made and shared it with the guards, cleaners, maids and gardeners. As you can imagine, these people really appreciated Mr. Roh’s kindness. Later in the day, he would set out a tray of grains and a bowl of water on the terrace for the pigeons and the squirrels. He even learnt how to knit, and most evenings you could find him curled up in his bed with a giant ball of wool in his lap, his knitting needles going clickety-clack as he worked on a scarf for an old man who lived in a slum nearby or a pair of socks for the child of the maid who worked in his home.
“It’s prayer and service that’s keeping me still passionate about being alive!” Mr. Roh would insist on telling everyone he met, wanting that retirement should be the most fulfilling and joyful phase of their life, just as it had been for him! *
Words of Wisdom
Dedicating my body and mind, I serve the humble servant of the Lord; with my tongue, I sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord.
(Source: Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji)DONATE FOR PEACE