With apologies to my newest son-in-law, I have to say that I think it’s time for Tom Brady to go. It’s so sad to watch quarterbacks who are no longer at the top of their game but just can’t let go. I know, I know – there are some die-hard New England fans who will dispute my assessment but that really isn’t the point. In almost every profession, there comes a time to leave. There are actors who are no longer suited to the big screen, singers whose voices now betray them, athletes whose bodies have undergone too much wear and tear to function as they originally did. And a wise person recognizes when they are no longer suited to this type of work. It doesn’t mean they aren’t suited to any type of work; but for this particular area, the time has come to move on.

Some sports have clearer boundaries; gymnasts rarely last beyond their early twenties. Some careers allow you to push the boundaries with older actors taking on…well, older roles. Some professionals complain of ageism, a type of discrimination that pushes them out of their jobs long before they feel ready. But perhaps it isn’t all unfair or inappropriate. Perhaps writers for television need a younger perspective to attract the desired audience. I would certainly think that younger firemen have quicker responses and greater physical strength. Even the mind of a mathematician may operate more agilely when younger.

This does not have to be taken as a put-down of the older generation (among whom I now consider myself a card-carrying member). Each generation has its strengths. Ethics of Our Fathers even goes so far as to enumerate the opportunities for each decade of life. The wise person recognizes his or her strengths and makes the most of them while not railing against strengths that no longer exist or opportunities now denied.

Hopefully there is maturity, wisdom, perspective, all sorts of advantages that come with age and experience. This may and does suit us to other jobs (I imagine that many TV stations are eagerly courting Tom Brady to join their sports broadcasting team) but those jobs only arise when we use the same wisdom and maturity to walk away from the ones we are no longer suited to.

Sometimes musicians take farewell tours (even repeated farewell tours!). They can be wonderful, they can be nostalgic, they can be uplifting. They can also be really depressing; if the musician can no longer sing or play well and is just capitalizing on past fame, it is an embarrassing and painful moment for the performer and for his audience. Why should we subject ourselves to that?

I imagine that when the time comes (I certainly don’t acknowledge that I’ve reached that time yet!) that I must relinquish a career I love, I won’t find it easy. I may even feel a little lost, a little adrift, maybe even a lot adrift. I think it can be very challenging – psychologically, emotionally – and often financially. But I also hope I’ll know when it’s time to go, that I won’t hang on long “past my prime”, that people won’t be whispering behind my back that it’s time for me to quit.

And I also hope that I’ll recognize that the Almighty is constantly giving us opportunities to grow, to change to connect to Him and that when it’s time to leave a beloved career, something new and wonderful is just around the corner. As long as we’re open to seeing it, as long as we’re receptive to the possibilities, as long as we continue to ask the Almighty to guide us.