My wife read yesterday's blog post and said, "This one I don't identify with. There are lots of people who find satisfaction in work and don't want to eliminate it entirely from their lives. I'm one of them. So are you."
Right. So am I.
I work about 15% of my time. It can be for a few days, or a couple of weeks. It no longer defines me, but it keeps the chops in shape. To be chopless is not something I want. I identify with the skill if not the job. (That's fodder for a few more posts.)
To me, it doesn't seem contradictory to work somewhat in retirement. It seems part of the redefinition of a word that has lost its old meaning and is finding a new one — formed in the giant laboratory of life by millions of baby boomers accustomed to resisting convention and defying stereotypes. We find new ways to do things. Or at least, many of us do.
That's also why I take exception to Christopher Plummer stating with baronial authority that to retire is to die. If you love your work and cannot imagine doing anything else, by all means don't retire. And ignore cheerleaders like me who go on about the glories of freedom after a life of service to money making.
And yet, there are always questions to ask.
Do you know what else is out there?
Do you know yourself?
Do you know what's behind your desire to continue working?
Is your story about work true?
Is your story about retirement true?
Is there another story that might fit?
Will you have regrets if you don't stop working and discover other pleasures and fulfillments in life?
Can you work somewhat, like me, to mix it up and find the balance that fulfills you at this stage of life, knowing there's a final curtain?
The answers, for some people will be: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. No. No. No.
Some people choose to work their whole lives (my 88-year-old mother-in-law still does). And it’s their choice, to be respected right alongside those who retire as early as possible and fly out the door grinning uncontrollably, never to look back.
This retirement thing is complicated. Once we take the need for money out of the argument (because that supersedes all else), it's about who you are, not the expectations of others.
Nothing is for sure, except that retirement no longer fits in its old box. And we don't have to fit in any box.
And there’s this:
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right —
for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt