A Different Yardstick
“Your soul is infinitely creative. It is alive and expansive in nature. It is curious and playful, changing with the tides of time.” ~Debbie Ford
I have reached an age where many of my counterparts have retired or are preparing to do so very soon.
Some have grand plans to travel the world, others simply desire to spend more time in their garden.
My personal context around “retirement” is this: it doesn’t exist.
My father died suddenly at age 60, fully employed; my mother didn’t retire from teaching until age 85.
Retirement: what’s that?
I think it might mean stepping away from measuring our worth based on paid productivity, and turning instead toward a freer, fuller sense playfulness.
The problem, though, is that many of us have forgotten what it means to be playful: curious, open, unafraid of making a mistake.
Transitioning from a lifetime of deadlines—due-dates and to-do lists, an entire adulthood built on the pressures of providing—to a day free from obligations, a day in which we set our own schedule, are beholden to no one’s agenda but our own… well, it sounds like a dream.
But without a sense of purpose, without a font of meaning, it can become a lonely nightmare, and a steppingstone to an earlier death: 4-6 years after retirement there is a sharp rise in actuarial tables for death among men.
After a lifetime of pressures, learning how to play again can be difficult, the sense of “I ought to be doing something…” often lingering on the fringe.
But it is necessary, to be engaged in activities we find worthwhile, and an invitation to a future based on a different definition of “productive” and how we experience it.
Retirement doesn’t mean you stop being productive.
It means you use a different yardstick to measure it.
“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.” ~Tom Robbins