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Retirement

05.12.19

The world has come a long way since the days when someone expected to work for the same company, even in the same town, until the day he or she retired, hopefully with a pension, however modest.

Our kids’ generation are exposed to a quite different reality, one in which they can move almost seamlessly from one discipline to another, in a different part of the country, even in a different part of the world, often without any prospect of a pension, which doesn’t appear to faze them.

This, all the while raising a family, looking at a greater choice of schools for their kids; indeed, often changing schools, even at the elementary level - a thought most of us would probably not have contemplated, because considered unnecessary - and still managing somehow to fit in time for active involvement in their local community.

Furthermore, we know that the next generation will outlive our generation, which inevitably presents its own set of issues, not the least being that those who follow us will want, perhaps need, to work longer than you and I.

Unfortunately, society has yet to fully come to grips with this emerging reality, which will render problematic the notion of a nationally-funded old age security program, for example.

Which brings us back to our old friend retirement.

My personal feeling is that one should never retire, in the sense that from one day to the next, one stops whatever one was doing up until the previous day.

The question then becomes, “what is one to do?”

And that leads us to ask, “what does one want to do?”

To which there are myriad answers, such as wanting to continue doing whatever it was that one was doing the day before.

Or somehow venturing forth on one’s own, or in partnership with a family member or a close friend, or even a complete unknown, though that might be a little risky.

I, for one, left government service one day, and found myself literally the next, in a completely different field, in a completely different town, working with my brother and his partners, something that I had certainly not anticipated, nor had he, as I discovered - no nepotism in our family.

Technically, I’m semi-retired, in the sense that I’m drawing a modest government pension, and working roughly three days a week. The other four days find me devoting considerable time as a volunteer with community organizations, something instilled in me and my siblings by our mother.

And then there is the next generation and the generation after that, totalling ten, including spouses, none of whom live in my home town, which means my wife and I are often on the road or in an airplane.

When people ask me when I’m planning on ( fully ) retiring, I tell them that my father went into the office until at least his seventy-fifth birthday, and that I expect to do the same, and perhaps longer, based on the fact that each generation seems to be living a little bit longer than the previous one, as mentioned above.

And, while we can never really recreate, replicate, or relive periods of our lives when we were younger, much younger, we can take things we enjoyed doing, such as driving along country roads in a sports car with the top down, and not only imagine what it would be like to do exactly that fifty years later, but actually doing it! And sooner rather than later, before I lose too many of my faculties, and have to give up something I do really cherish - my driver’s licence.

So we can conclude somewhat, though not entirely, flippantly by simply saying that it is time to banish retirement.

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