Gayle and Grady Means
Gayle and Grady Means of Half Moon Bay reflect on a game of a chess during a discussion of his latest book, “Endgame.”

Ocean Colony resident, author, economist and consultant Grady Means recalled a chat he had one day with a former U.S. Secretary of State. Their conversation had nothing to do with world politics, but with something much more universal.

“One day I’m commanding 3 million soldiers,” Means recalled Colin Powell remarking to him. “The next day I wake up and on my agenda is mowing the lawn and washing the dishes and figuring out what to do for the rest of the day.”

Their topic of conversation was retirement and the shift from being surrounded by commitments and responsibilities to figuring out the parameters of new realities when that changes with retirement. One day, you have a job, a title whether executive or wife and mother, and suddenly it’s gone.

“What moves you” at that point, Means pondered? “What gets you up in the morning, what gets you out, what excites you?”

Faced with the approach of that moment, he continued, some people may choose to continue working until they die. Others may choose to devote their time to recreation and distractions, and still others may pursue a “forever young” lifestyle.

But there is another alternative — plumbing the positive in the potentials and time to sit down, think things through and choose a new direction.

Such musings manifest in “Endgame,” Mill City Press, 138 pages paperback, $18.95, Means’ latest book.

In the game of chess, the “endgame” is the final set of moves for which players prepare throughout the game. Means’ book is a unique amalgam of poetry and prose, as the author sets forth his various aspects of retirement and further explores and ponders them in freeform poetry.

Poetry purists frown upon mingling poetry and prose, but in Means’ case, the structure of the book promotes the very contemplation that he sees retirement as a rich time for.

“Retirement is a massive passage in life, a huge transition,” said the articulate and keen-eyed Means. “There has been little discussion of it.”

Means himself led an involved life, working in government and business management, and writing and speaking about business, management, politics, foreign affairs and religion. He served as an assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller in the White House in the mid-1970s and worked on health and human welfare issues at the U.S Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He was also a managing partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers running billion-dollar businesses revolving around corporate strategy and government consulting.

Now, at 66, the seven-year Half Moon Bay resident is retired and finding it a rich experience.

“People look at retirement as a narrative of loss. I think of it as a narrative of opportunity,” he said. “Really take the opportunity. Really understand life. Really enjoy life. Really settle on what you think about things” because there could be a good third of life to go.

Means’ wife Gayle helped with the editing of his book. Their daughter is a third-year medical student at Stanford and their son is a political consultant in Washington D.C.

The book is meant to be positive, he said. It’s a good time for him as he starts in yet another new business, this one revolving around developing medical equipment.

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