Since closing the door on thirty plus years at the office I have often found myself reflecting on the many meanings of retirement. The word itself is dispiriting, conjuring an image of retreat and withdrawal. What are we actually retiring from and where are we going? Retirement is, it seems to me, a very individual response to a fundamental change in circumstances, whether offered or imposed, which can be wholeheartedly embraced, grudgingly accepted or simply endured, depending on your viewpoint. How we respond is a personal choice and, I believe, the key to the quality of the life that follows.
Inextricably linked to the concept of retirement is the perception of age. Advancing age tends to be viewed negatively in western cultures: it is ‘the winter of life’, often equated with invisibility and seen as a weakening, a dreaded inevitability to be fought for as long as possible, a battle against time. For many it is a symbol of loss, whether it be loss of agility, loss of memory, loss of income, loss of friends and family, or loss of independence, responsibility and autonomy – the list is long and merciless, and for those affected can lead to a feeling that they no longer make a meaningful contribution to society, a perspective that sits uneasily alongside consistent growth in life expectancy. As we all lead longer, healthier lives, a corresponding change in attitudes is sorely needed.
I am saddened by the number of my peers who look back with nostalgia at their past careers and regret their ending. I am equally saddened, and indeed astonished, by conversations with disillusioned young people who look forward with impatience to retirement. That is indeed a startling comment on modern society. Retirement should not, in my view, be seen as a rosy alternative to work but rather as an earned culmination to working life and the springboard to new opportunities.
We are not diminished by age, we are enhanced. Despite physical deterioration and the effects of health and reduced income on lifestyle, the compensations of experience, wisdom, self-awareness and confidence by far outweigh the frustration of creaking bones. Admittedly that is easily said by those whose interests are more cerebral or creative than physical, but the benefits of age are nevertheless significant and should be celebrated, as with each passing year we move closer to becoming the best we can be. It is a question of balance. The sadnesses of losing those dear to us as we grow older are balanced by the joys of our children, whilst even in grief itself there lies the possibility of enrichment. I know that I am stronger psychologically, spiritually and intellectually than in my youth: I have grown into my skin and find it comfortable.
Far from retiring, I am regenerating. I have awoken sleeping giants. I have returned to writing and am experimenting with art and crafts. I love travelling with my husband, and spending time with family and friends. I enjoy living in the moment and engaging in new experiences. “It is never too late to become what you might have been“: this enormously liberating observation which I recently encountered reminds us that there are no limitations imposed on mindset, so be bold.
Remember what you loved. Now is the time to fill new chapters with the energy of passion, to make your years count. Be seen, be heard, make a difference. Regenerate.
Name: Miriam M.
Bio: Age 63. A former senior administrator with a languages degree and an MBA, I now enjoy studying with the OU. I am a lover of the sea, big skies and quiet spaces, and writing – particularly poetry – is my passion. I live in a village outside Banbury, Oxfordshire, with my husband. We have one married daughter.
I Love woolovers ?? And I love Wool and Cashmere. ???????????? ??????
Greatings from Asta. ??
Miriam's words are so true we should all strive to follow our hearts and passions and continually blossom as each year goes by.
I have always been very satisfied with quality and style of Woolovers, I have
been a customer for many years but at 84 years of age do not need to buy as many woollens as I used to.