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You Can’t Cheat Change

September 12, 2012 - Ernest Hohmeyer
I cried like a baby the other day.

We were dropping off our eldest child at college. And while I knew this day was coming, I hadn’t expected the reaction it would cause.

The one thing about life is that nothing stays the same.

Things started off that day okay. The growing pit in my stomach expected off-set by my daughter’s enthusiasm and excitement to start this new chapter in her life.

Yes, things were going along just fine, until as we drove away and began to wave, I saw the tears running down her face.

That was it for me, I lost it. I know this picture will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life.

Driving away, my only daughter crying being left in a place where you hope she finds growth and happiness but in a foreign environment that you could no longer monitor or just pick her up if things did not go well.

What happened?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that when I came home from work, she would come running to the door, 2 years old asking me to read her a story? Wasn’t it just a few hours ago, when I saw her in her first play?

As I drove away, my world a sea of rain on a cloudless day, I got the feeling that our real tears knew that our family life was never going to be the same.

An era was over.

Yes, there will be weekend and holiday visits for a while but as our little girl becomes a woman so will externships, boyfriends, a career and hopefully her own family someday. And we will share the joy in all of that. After all, we raise our kids so that someday we have done the best we can to let them fly away.

But the torch of an era has passed and we all knew it. And as we drove the long car ride home, each mile the re-affirmation that this new reality was black-topped in stone, I began to feel sorry for myself.

I really thought when I was younger that if you worked hard, tried to do the right thing, that life would become easier as you got older. I believed that someday youthful unbalanced emotion and ignorance would be replaced by a calm coolness and sage experience. I could not wait for the day, when my energy was matched with experience - when I would become a Goliath of wisdom and stature.

Well, I keep waiting for that day.

Where Are We Going?

In the meantime, I am beginning to realize that life may be a series of struggles and potholes. That just when you think you have seen it all or felt every undesirable emotion you can think of, one more zinger comes at you. You start to realize that old people are not aliens, that indeed it will be you sooner than you think and you start reading the obituaries instead of the comics.

For a lucky few, life has been on a course but I wonder if for many it has been about questioning “What is this all about? Isn’t there more?”

Perhaps I understand now what mid-life crisis is all about!

Perhaps life throws you change to wake you up, to challenge you. As I was driving home thinking “Is this it? My kids get older, leave, I get sick and die?! What happened to ME?”

And then a day later, back home, I came to the cross-walk and immediately cars stopped to let me cross. I had a bag full of groceries and someone came across the store to open the door. As I was putting together our first care package for my daughter, the Post Master tried to soothe my wrecked emotions by reciting how her son joined the military and on tour didn’t know where he was for long periods of time. As she spoke I began to think about how too many parents have lost their sons and daughters.

No, I realized I have no troubles at all.

Dealing with change.

I remembered what my own father said to me: “You make your real legacy when times are tough. If you pick yourself up, challenge yourself, life can bring you new rewards and experiences.”

Man, did that make me mad. What was the matter with him? Didn’t he understand that I was crushed when I was rejected for my first job or upon hearing that my brother-in-law died, that it hurt? And then to further infuriate me he wouldn’t do anything to make the pain go away. Where was his magic wand anyways? He would just tell me stories about going through the Great Depression and having no food, losing several brothers in World War II and coming to this country with no money or job and with a family of four. How when he came to the Adirondacks, people like the Plumadore’s, Moody’s and Callahans went way above the call of duty to help us start our business.

No, the pain would not go away but a sense of moving forward, the energy to tackle a new challenge would wave over me. I understand now what he was doing.

Hurt and pain may not go away but there is so much more out there, it just may be different than we might have imagined. Perhaps it may not be as black and white or as filled with the youthful excitement of someone saying yes to your first date. But it can be new opportunities that bring with it new experiences.

Entrepreneurship can be one way to explore new worlds.

Entrepreneurship as an Opportunity

Entrepreneurship isn’t just for the young, but can inspire people of all ages. If you are contemplating like me, “what’s next?” consider a new venture. Entrepreneurship does not have to be full-time. It also does not have to involve employees. You also don’t have to go to an office each day and can work out of your home.

Entrepreneurship can bring you flexibility late in life as well. Many businesses in today’s on-line world can be located anywhere. It can move with you if you decide you would like to travel or have seasonal homes.

Entrepreneurship can allow that creativity, to try out those ideas that you always had. It can allow you to dream again.

And there are a whole slew of sources out there to help both real time and on-line.

In the Tri-lakes there is AEDC, several chambers, Cornell Cooperative Extension, local, county and regional economic development groups. On the state and federal level, there is Empire State Development, the SBA and the Small Business Development Centers among others.

Change is going to happen. The pain may not go away. But, if you are wondering like me what are your next steps, do not let age stop you. Look how old Walt Disney and Col. Sanders were when they finally made it. Consider entrepreneurship. It may offer new horizons that may provide a refreshing new coat of paint to your personal canvass that has truly become rich with what you can offer to others in this stage of life.

Already in business? Summer is over and it may be the time to try out that new idea.

We want our kids to grow and be successful. Perhaps we should practice for ourselves what we preach.

It’s never too late to start.


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