Life is just a series of reboots
The Sunday paper had a short feature on Katie Couric titled "Life is a series of reboots." As you know, a reboot is when you restart a computer or an operating system. Sometimes you reboot after a system fails or when you install new software or hardware. To do this, you turn the computer off, make the change and start it again. In Katie's case, she lost her job as CBS Evening News anchor last year and now she's rebooting by starting a new morning talk show, "Katie."
Couric has rebooted before. About 14 years ago, her 42-year-old husband, Jay, died of colon cancer, leaving Katie with two daughters, two andsix. Since then she has been a single mother, an anchor person and, along with eight other women, has founded a Stand Up to Cancer research alliance. I'm confident her reboot will go just fine.
Rebooting is nothing new. Either by choice or necessity, most of us do it. For example, every day soldiers, sailors and marines transition from military life to lives as civilians. Those who have been trained and experienced as pilots or technical specialists are not likely to face a difficult reentry. But those with less training and different experience will be challenged to find jobs and resume normal living. They will need support and assistance from caring Americans.
In some occupations, rebooting becomes necessary at an early age. Bert Blyleven (born in the Netherlands as Rik Aalbert Blijleven) was a professional baseball player -- pitched for the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels. He was good enough to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. But baseball players rarely play beyond the age of 40. Blyleven has rebooted and has been a color commentator for the Twins since he was 45. His curve ball in the 1970s and 1980s was much better than the quality of his commentary in the 2000s (Circle Me Bert), but he's comfortably occupied.
Sometimes the reboot or second career after retirement is called an "encore" -- an additional performance in response to the demand of an audience. Blyleven's job could now be considered an encore performance.
Mitt Romney has rebooted many times. He has gone from business (Bane Capital) to the Olympics (2002 Winter Olympics in Utah) to politics (Governor of Massachusetts) to retirement, to politics (now running for president). Next year he'll be rebooting to something else -- one way or another.
One of the most interesting of rebooters was Anna Mary Robertson Moses. You've never heard of her? Of course you have -- she was the famous painter known as Grandma Moses. Anna Mary was born in 1860 when James Buchanan was our 15th president. She lived to be 101, dying during the term of John F. Kennedy after 20 presidents had served during her lifetime. She was one of ten children who had ten children of her own, after marrying Thomas Moses, "the hired man". Thomas died in 1927. Grandma was known locally in rural New York for her talent in embroidery. Then, at the age of 76, when her arthritis made it impossible for her to hold embroidery needles, she followed the suggestion of her sister, rebooted and took up painting, though she had never had an art lesson in her life. She painted simple, but realistic scenes of rural life based on memories of her youth in the 1880s. Her work was praised for its freshness, innocence and humanity.
Grandma painted over 1,600 paintings in the next 25 years. Before she became famous, she sold her small canvases for $2 each and the larger ones for $3. She became well known after an exhibit in a Washington D.C. gallery where her paintings were exhibited with her culinary creations, home baked breads, rolls, cakes and preserves. But she enjoyed painting more than cooking. She said, "It's easier to make a painting then to bake a cake over a hot stove." Mademoiselle Magazine named her "Young Woman of the Year" when she was 86.
The biggest display of Moses' paintings is now in a gallery in Bennington, Vermont. The best known is titled, "Sugaring Off" -- which sold for $1.2 million in 2006.
The moral of the story is this: If you live long enough, you will either choose or life will force you to reboot, maybe many times. Whether the cause is losing your evening anchor job, discharge from the military, retirement from baseball, retirement from politics, retirement in general or arthritis in your embroidery fingers, it's never too late for a successful encore. Best wishes in your next career.