For this edition of Ronnie, we sat in the lovely parlor on the main floor of Founders’ Hall at Athens State University. We had both just attended the annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas Coffee, and we were on the run, facing down the ever-present deadlines of our chosen professions. I thought for a moment about the room in which we sat, and all the history that it contains. I imagined the decisions, discussions, and debates that had occurred there. As we sat and talked about various things about which we are concerned here in our modern day Athens, for a moment time seemed to stand still.
Time-less, though, was the theme of the Mayor’s thoughts that morning, and his inspiration came from a personalized, autographed book co-authored by a man he had just heard speak a few days prior. The name of the book is Get Off Your Bus!…There’s More Work To Be Done! It’s written by two senior citizens, Dennis Swanberg and John Bisagno, who both spent a lifetime in the ministry prior to “retirement.” In addition, the forward is written by former Governor Mike Huckabee. The Governor has the following to say:
“DON’T QUIT…the battle of life is too important to become an observer from the sidelines! “GET OFF YOUR BUS” challenged me to think of the coming years of my life to be the most important ones, SO SADDLE UP, Pilgrim, and know that you’re in for the Ride of Your Life! But you ain’t gonna be doing it on no Chartered Bus!”
Mayor Ronnie was very clear regarding his desire to communicate the following: Play golf, (he does,) go travel, visit your grandkids, enjoy your old hobbies and friends, and make new ones, but keep “striking your match.” What does that and “getting off your bus” actually mean? The “bus” is a play on people who prepare for retirement in such a way that they are ONLY planning on being permanently at leisure, and going where others have decided is best for them. “No matter your age, you need to take some of the energy you’ve got and put it into your world. Our community needs you now more than ever. We see an enormous amount of energy spent on our city by volunteers all year round. The Christmas Parade, for example was a success because of the creativity of people who did it with no thought of anything in return. They want to give back to the community, no matter what their age,” he said.
The metaphor of “striking your match” is especially appropriate this time of year, with Hanukkah being a celebration of supernaturally sustained light, and Christmas the joyous heralding of the birth of the Light of the World. A man who had just lost his beloved wife once said, “The light of my life just went out,” an understandable statement in the shock of bereavement. But as time went on, the widower realized he still had several “matches” to strike, light and warmth and direction to provide, and a “to-do” list given by the King that had several items that had not been crossed off yet.
Remember, no one gave you permission to quit, and while you have every right to enjoy yourself during the holidays and forward on into the New Year, our world in its current darkness needs you more than ever. From Mayor Marks, may all of Athens have a wonderful, light-filled holiday, and “We’ll see you next year!”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner