Talk about changing horses! Baby boomer Mike Kiley of Bloomington, Illinois, spends a lot of his time documenting the lives of baby boomers who have struck out into something brand new. As he wrote in his last piece for BoomerCafé, it’s called “Redefinement,” which is a new state of mind for boomers to replace “retirement.”
Redefinement is characterized by striving for the ideal life unique to each of us. Rather than settling for what we think we’re supposed to do, we should do what is right for us on our own terms. You might say it will place us on a continuum, with each of us fitting somewhere between “Not what I want to be doing” all the way to “Retirement Nirvana.”
Retirement Nirvana? Yes, many of us baby boomers are enjoying a redefinement that we feel is very meaningful to us. Often, it aligns with doing something that makes a difference in other people’s lives. Retirement Nirvana can be identified with the statement, “I actually would pay to be doing this!”
Ben Daily, of Towanda, Illinois, has reached Retirement Nirvana. In 2010, Ben retired from a Fortune 500 company, having worked thirty-plus years in marketing.
Today, at 66, he is a long haul trucker for the Midwest Food Bank. It’s a non-profit, faith-based organization, whose mission is to alleviate hunger and poverty by gathering and distributing food donations for not-for-profits and disaster sites without cost to the recipients.
He has logged more than 100,000 miles since starting four years ago now. Last year he was on the road for over 100 days. Ben wouldn’t have it any other way. “I have been blessed to have my interest and passions guided to making a difference for others,” he says. As a young man, he adds, “I always enjoyed being around big equipment and even drove a dump truck and earth moving equipment during college summers off. Now here I am.”
Ben raises his hand for the longer trips. “Once I leave, I prefer to be out for awhile. I get to see the country. My wife Mary will often join me, which is an added bonus. We have discovered that there is a true brother and sisterhood of wonderful people driving trucks. I really respect what they do!”
He points to his travels to the Navajo reservation in New Mexico and southern disaster relief as having the most meaning of all his trips.
You might see him some day driving his eighteen-wheeler. He reminds all of us traveling the interstate that signs on trucks are true: “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you!”