I’m long overdue for a post. I have lots of things to write about, just short on time to write them. My retirement life has changed – again. That brings me to my current subject, exactly what is retired?
A few weeks ago we held a dinner party at our house to thank the people who helped us erect a gazebo behind the art studio we built last year. One of the guests listened as another guest talked about his career, ending his work life story with, “Now I’m retired.” The listener retorted, “You’re not retired!”
One of the men, an engineer during his formal career, is now engaged in producing stained glass art; the other, an international consultant, returned to his childhood roots of farming. One considered himself retired; the other did not, nor did he see his new friend as retired. They are both engaged in pursuits of their choice.
I’ve previously written about starting over when we retire and recently received a comment from thirty-something Amber (https://thefablifeproject.wordpress.com) about starting over. As Amber said, “…I see now, that starting over is just adding another brick to create a more fascinating foundation.” I would add that reinventing ourselves creates a rich, interesting life filled with adventure and challenges.
We start over many times during our lifetime. Post-career life is no different. I’ve started over during my post-career life, taking on, by necessity, the role of caregiver. Even after leaving the career that enables us to enter a time commonly known as retirement, we will create a new identity many times over. Sometimes by choice; other times by what life sends our way.
In fact, our world in general is changing so rapidly, reinvention, starting over in the future will most likely become a necessity for survival. We are already seeing it. Technology kicked open a door that cannot possibly be closed. There is no going back. Technology fueled changes that for me, as a child, I never could have imagined. Some of these changes I could not have conjured just ten or twenty years ago.
An internet, the information highway, the upheaval in the way manufacturing occurs with robotics, artificial intelligence, hundreds of channels, streaming movies and tv shows, downloading books, cars with GPS coming from a satellite, backup cameras and push button ignition, ordering groceries online for them to be delivered or picked up at the store, smart homes. The list goes on and on and on.
What will jobs be in the future? We live in a global economy. Right here in Upstate South Carolina, where I live, BMW has its largest manufacturing plant in the entire world. A tour of the plant reveals robotics, computers and a facility so clean, you could eat off the floor. A skilled, educated, adaptable workforce is a basic requirement. Those requirements may change, who knows, in the coming decades.
What will retirement be like in the future, if there is retirement? Or is retirement already an idea of the past, supplanted by a reinvention of self and activities? To my one dinner guest retirement is when you pack it in, going to live in a 55 and over community or assisted living, where someone else prepares your meals, does your laundry, cleans your living quarters and your activities are directed, planned and provided by a community staff.
Adaptability to change is a key component at anytime of our life’s journey. In the last year, Martin and I have made some dramatic changes. Gone is the motorcycle Martin loved riding so much, we are down to one car, I do the driving. Since he can no longer read or write, I handle everything paper or online. I’ve become an expert again at organizing our lives. The decluttering seems to never-end. I am amazed at what we accumulated, yet no longer need. I took a carload to a hospice house thrift store on Thursday.
Our house is now filled with the art mainly produced by Martin. We built the art studio last year. It has provided so much joy as well as clearing our house of art supplies, I wish we had built it sooner. Then the community raising of the gazebo and fire pit behind it this spring while I created a new garden around them.
Am I retired? No. I’m too busy living life, doing, being, feeling, seeing, adapting, changing, adding another brick to the foundation of my life’s journey. Retirement will have to wait.