Member Musings: Iris Shur

Member Musings features the reflections and thoughts of an NPC member

When is Enough Enough?

Iris Shur

Iris Shur

My alumni magazine came today. I go right to “class notes.” There I find out that my fellow classmates are CEOs of major companies, or have produced award-winning films or have written books that are on the New York Times bestseller lists. Often I think about sending in my own class note, which would have a very different take.

“Iris Shur, MS 19xx. Iris is currently doing nothing. Oh, she had three kids, but they are off on their own. Some days she reads a book. She eats out a lot, doesn’t like to cook anymore. Sometimes she goes shopping. The other day she went to the east coast of Florida to shop in the outlet mall with a bunch of friends. Soon she might meander up north to see some of her children and grandchildren.”

I would make a lot of graduates happy reading this, don’t you think? Anyone out there who is currently an under-achiever could relate to my class note. I am getting tired of trying to achieve these days. Guess I am winding down.

Several of my friends, who have been active workers and then active volunteers, have expressed the same feeling. We are just tired of being the one to step up to the plate when no one else will “do it,” whatever “it” is.

When I first moved to Naples I found a lot of very energetic, capable people. I had been a very active volunteer up north. But, I said to my husband, “I will be a little fish in a big pond here; everyone is so accomplished.” 

As time went by I realized that the same ten people who were active up north were active here. Not literally, but there were ten of them. There were many who talked a good game but did nothing. I had no trouble rising in the ranks to one of the ten in my area of volunteerism. That is not to brag. In fact, quite the opposite. I was not smart enough to act as if I was doing something when I wasn’t. I actually had to do something.

When you are ready to retire your position, you have to find a replacement. It becomes like a game of musical chairs. In this game, however, everyone runs from the chairs instead of toward them. You have to catch someone and plop them down in the chair!  Often you are not running fast enough to catch someone and you end up signing up to do your job for another two years.

Being active in organizations is kind of like an addiction. I enjoy the idea of getting something off the ground, seeing it take shape, prosper, grow. Then I get tired of the day-to-day responsibilities the position requires, but I am stuck.

I am not falling for that again. Slowly but surely, I have been divesting myself of my volunteer responsibilities and living the hedonistic life. It’s difficult to keep my mouth shut when someone says “Does anyone have any ideas for the fall luncheon of xxx organization?” Of course, I have ideas but I am not sharing them. If you proffer an idea you are automatically the chairman.

But then, in the alumni class notes that just arrived, I read that a 98-year-old retired dentist, a fellow college graduate (OK, not in my year) is the oldest active volunteer in some organization.

Now I feel like a sluggard again.

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