2021-10 From the President: Making meaningful connections
In the Before Times*, a person could go to a community event or an UMRA program or a favorite coffee shop and have random encounters with people they know and people they’d like to meet. We had a rare opportunity for encountering each other on August 17, a sunny day in St. Paul when about 100 UMRA members and guests met for lunch together by Lake Como at the UMRA Summer Social. The day was a delight and so were the conversations.
Since then, the news about the COVID-19 variants has us all feeling uncertain again about when we will be able to visit like that. We may, for a while, be in another time of avoiding those random encounters, which will mean needing to connect more purposefully to people we know or would like to. If you’re an introvert like me and not a reflexive reacher-outer, this means having to overcome some resistance and learn new habits, like making time on purpose to connect with old friends and finding ways to meet new ones. Retiring from paid work was a similar transition. No more running into colleagues whether I wanted to or not—I had to reach out to build a social network.
In a 2018 column in the UMRA newsletter, then-President Jerry Rinehart talked about the “two sides of UMRA’s currency,” one of them being service to retirees by helping us make retirement successful. A key to that is making meaningful connections, and I think UMRA does that, even when we can’t get together indoors. You can join an UMRA interest group (focused on books, family history, photography, armchair travel, finance, or Zoom technology), or you could start a new one. UMRA member Bev Moe is seeking other members to join her in a hiking group, a good way to defy COVID, lift your spirits, and stay healthy.
We can also become connectors ourselves, by helping the work of the UMRA Cares Committee or volunteering through the University Retirees Volunteer Center. If reaching people through writing gives you satisfaction, the Journal of Opinions, Ideas, and Essays invites you to submit articles.
So, while we look forward to returning to the ease and delight of random social encounters, we can still make the most of the experiences and meaningful connections that UMRA continues to provide. And I hope you will!
—Jan Morlock, UMRA president
* Editor’s note: The term Before Times is now recognized by Merriam-Webster as an expression of nostalgia for how things were pre-COVID-19.