It's often hard to remember that for a lucky few people a job isn't just a means of paying the bills but something you love. I once asked my label-mate James Fallows how long he thought he'd write and he basically said "Until they have to carry me out." I feel exactly the same way. If I could not write I don't know what I'd do--it's a part of me.The N.F.L. isn't a street gang. We're mercenaries willing to work for the highest bidder and willing to get along with whomever we need to in order to keep working. I know why I haven't heard from any of my former teammates. But it's not as if I'm looking for them, either. What would we talk about? What do we have in common now? Not much. Once you're out of the circle, you're out. So besides my family and a couple of my high school buddies, I don't have many friends."Early retirement" sounds wonderful. It certainly did that cold night in Pittsburgh. I was going to use my time to conquer the world. Boy, was I wrong.Now I find myself in music chat rooms arguing the validity of Frank Zappa versus the Mars Volta. (If the others only knew Walkingpnumonia was the screen name for a former All-Pro football player and not some Oberlin College student trying to find his place in the world.) I wrote a book. I set sail on the picturesque and calming waters of Bodymore, Murdaland. And when I'm in dire straits, I do what any 8-year-old does; I kick a soccer ball against the garage hoping somebody feels sorry and says, "Hey, want to play?"
This is, of course, a problem of privilege. Most people work looking forward to retirement. But with pensions disappearing from the American jobscape, I wonder how much longer even that can continue.
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