Life’s Balance

I was just speaking with my friend of many years and we agreed that it is good to get away from work, from time to time.

Upon my retirement, January 1, 2011, I was repeatedly asked for the first three or more years…what I was doing for work now that I had retired?

I often responded that if I had wanted to continue working…I would have stayed at SIU…as it was my dream job.



Since my earliest days of employment at Southern Illinois University I had looked forward to the day that I could retire and pursue other interests…prior to the big sleep.

I have watched many of my colleagues retire at 65 or 70…or beyond…and witnessed them pass away within a year or less of their retirement.

Other of my friends have told me that work was all that made their life meaningful and that without it they would have no reason for living.

A life long friend asked me, not long after my retirement, if I felt like I was contributing anything to society without being employed?

It has seemed to me that life is more than working for a dollar.

Now, when I was employed…I worked many 16 and 18 hour days and thought nothing of it.  I was immersed in University life and work related duties.  I not only volunteered for many university committees and outreach groups but also was intricately involved in the political machinations of the Campus.

Work and career…have inherent in them a, somewhat, false construct of reality.

First, you have a boss to make happy.  No matter how much of a free thinker and rebel and bad-ass that you are…you will, of necessity, spend time in producing what your boss is expecting.

Bosses are mercurial!  No matter how fair and open-minded that supervisors are…you are subject to, at least some, of their personal bias and personal agendas.

When I first began at the University…I told Mary Jane that it was like another world.  Campus life has its own rhythms and norms and methods of communication and political agenda.

When I left the Campus, over 32 years later, I no longer noticed the peculiarity of University Life…as I had been immersed in it for many years.

I have heard several, former politicians, say that SIU was more politically divisive than their former role in state and federal government.

After I was retired for a year, or so, I began to see SIU as a member of the Carbondale and Southern Illinois Community.

It looked different.

The residents of Carbondale and the citizens of Southern Illinois want, desperately, for their University…to get its act together!

From the surrounding communities…we see a tremendous Campus and a first class infrastructure and a school to be proud of.

But we are perplexed by leadership that changes more often than we vote for a new President of the United States.

We hear grouseing and complaining coming from the the Campus…and we wonder, like Rodney King did, why we just can not all get along?

The Southern Illinois Region sees a world class university that has been, their north star and the largest employer, seem to not be able to agree on what time it is or if it is night or day.

There is no greater employment opportunity in Southern Illinois than Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

SIUC was nationally famous, for many years, for its annual Halloween celebration.  For many years this was a family affair and was safe and fun.



Religious fundamentalism and narrow minded administrators wanted to change SIU’s image from a, ‘Party School,’ to something akin to the University of Illinois or Harvard.

Have you ever noticed how much partying and good fun is partaken in at the University of Illinois and Harvard,…a lot!

SIUC had a stellar Associate degree program in many fields that was highly sought and desired by prospective high school students and their parents.

Many of these, classroom packed full courses, were either changed to four year bachelor degree programs or were farmed out to our many Junior Colleges.

SIU’s enrollment dropped…precipitously…after…this ‘pristine’ political and administration decision.

The people of Southern Illinois want their University to serve the needs of the people, and the young people, of Southern Illinois.

I admire, SIUC, Chancellor Carlo Montemagno for taking a stand against the dissolution of the Southern Illinois University System.

I call for a return to the Vision of former SIU President, Delyte Morris, who understood that SIUC was first to reach out to the citizens of Southern Illinois and then to the citizens of the state of Illinois and then to the citizens of the United States and then to the citizens of the world.

I call for a dedication to the founding principles of Delyte Morris…who built the Southern Illinois University System.

The primary reason that I still have an extreme interest in the health of SIUC, is that the greatest happenings in my life were in direct result to my being a part to the University Community.

Southern Illinois University is the Lighthouse of the entire region of Southern Illinois.

If SIU succeeds…the entire southern Illinois…succeeds.

Now, SIUC needs the concerned residents of Southern Illinois to take their stand and speak up for…their School…and insist that we do not want our University to wither and die on the vine…do to a lack of a vineyard worker….but, we want our  Board of Trustees to take the success of our, vital, school to heart.

We want our BOT to take the success of the SIU Campus as seriously as they would take their own success…and dig down…and see and facilitate the renewal of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale….the flagship campus of the SIU System.






11 responses

  1. At the age of sixteen I was offered full ride scholarships to Harvard, Princeton and Yale. That I turned them all down was an instinctive decision — and one from the correctness of which which no amount of hardship in the acquisition of age and wisdom has been able to dissuade me. Our campuses have become ingrown hotbeds of a rapant daily corrossive jealousy worse than the most despairing love can provide, as well as — most especially in the “fine” arts — veritable bastions of meaningless credential. Some sunshine in those dim moldy corners and a bit of grounding in actual reality would go a long way — classes back beneath the trees would be a good beginning. Disgusting.

    1. Well said, my friend. 🌞

  2. I still have 15+ years to go before retirement age (I put the “+” because I know it will move up on me).
    I really hope AND have plans to be in a position to get out early.

    1. I highly recommend it. 😉👍

  3. It is truly rare for anyone to rave about their job! You are blessed in that SIU was your dream job and that you enjoyed it so much. It is really nice to have this as I have not been lucky finding decent employers or owners in my last 2 jobs. I really hope I can have this in my new job that I am moving onto in June. Have a great week ahead BJ and I am so glad you have had a good work life. Blessings!

    1. Thank you, my friend. Here is hoping for only the best, for you, in your new job. 🌞

      1. Grateful thanks😃

  4. Brad Dillard | Reply

    Good column and pictures, Jay. I particularly like the stogie pics! A few times a year on special occasions I indulge myself.

    1. Thank you, my friend. A stogie, from time to time, is a rare treat! 🤠

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