In a discussion with a friend while riding bikes – a great time for connecting with people, by the way – we came to the conclusion that it’s time to retire the concept of retirement as it currently exists. When the retirement age of 65 was established, people often didn’t live all that much longer. Today, it’s not unusual for someone to live another 25 years or more in “retirement”.
Sitting on your assets for 25 years is a Bad Idea on many levels.
First of all, doing nothing with your life for 25 years is unhealthy. People who have no purpose, add no value to the world, and exist merely to entertain themselves tend not only to be a drain on the world, its resources, and its citizens, they also tend to decline more quickly. I’d suggest it’s also immoral to waste a gift (life) that you did nothing to earn (grace) when there is so much need around you and so many creative outlets.
I’m glad Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela didn’t retire at 65. Same with Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison. The list of impressive accomplishments by people over 65 will amaze, astound, surprise, astonish, and stupefy (list of synonyms courtesy of the thesaurus Roget published at age 70) you.
Then there are the financial considerations. Unless you’re a member of the Demoulas family,* you probably don’t have enough saved up to live for two years, never mind 25.
This applies not only to retirees, but to those of us who have ended our working careers early due to disability. In fact, it applies that much more to people with MS and certain other chronic conditions. Doing nothing is the best way to get into the worst way. Being selfish and having no reason to get up in the morning will almost certainly get you to a place where you won’t be able to get up in the morning.
What are your other options? Well, you could be this guy, Hy Goldman. He’s a hero. He loves his job and does it well (q.v. Lamarr). I’m not suggesting everyone work till they turn 100. But I am suggesting most everyone has the opportunity to make themselves useful long past retirement. You can live or you can wait to die.
As I heard a Christian minister once declare, “Retirement is not a Biblical concept. Death is.” It will all be gone some day. Even setting aside the concept of eternal rewards, do you want to be remembered for a slightly-better-than-mediocre golf score, a shell collection, or a wide butt from sitting watching reruns of old TV shows because they don’t make good ones anymore?
Better to live for the glory of the One who put you here and leave behind a better world.
* Side note: For the best commentary on the whole Market Basket/Demoulas debacle, you have to go all the way to California and the LA Times. Here it is.