The French for ‘retired’ means literally ‘in retreat’.
But retreat from what?
Not from ‘life’ because life goes on, and on.
Life expectancy this century is likely to increase, probably to around 120, which is a long way from the ‘allotment’ of years quoted in Psalm 90.
“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
This is the King James version translated over 400 years ago. There are a couple of key points here which other versions clarify.
At the end, there is clear reference to the spirit leaving the body, but that’s another story, and also to life being divided into ‘labour’ and ‘sorrow’.
Not very encouraging.
It would seem in popular culture, at least in Western culture, that these are mirrored by ‘work’ (employment) and ‘retirement’.
And because people are generally living longer, the line between the two is moving.
You see, as far as most people understand, ‘retirement’ occurs, whether you like it or not, at the age when you start to receive your state pension.
So, the retirement age is becoming later and later in life because the economics of the state paying pensions for millions of people living into their late nineties and early hundreds just doesn’t work.
State pensions were designed around the old biblical definition of 70-80 years of life so the funding in terms of the contributions made by people throughout their ‘working’ lives and what would be paid back when they stopped receiving an employment income balanced.
Now, it’s becoming harder and harder for the state to achieve that balance.
But still, the state, the media and popular culture have the mindset that we all just ‘stop working’ when we reach that age and switch form one situation to another.
Sadly, in many, many cases it really is a switch between “labour and sorrow”, but, as you and I know, this doesn’t have to be true.
Many people keep on working, either as employees, ‘part-timers’ or by running their own businesses, often because they need the extra funds but also often because they really enjoy what they do.
But most people, don’t, and if they do have to ‘work’ because the pension isn’t sufficient for their needs, they still feel that they ‘should’ be retired and ‘putting their feet up’.
The media have a very confused approach to all this, especially as we approach a time when there may be more ‘pensioners’ than wage earners.
They stir up resentment among younger people who complain that ‘the old’ are getting all the benefit from the taxes they are paying.
In fact, those who are drawing a pension paid for it themselves. The ‘young’ are paying for their pensions. I’ve not seen anything in the press that points that out.
There is a distinct ‘ageist’ anti pensioner theme in some publications, mostly written by people who have 20 or more years to go before they see the benefits themselves.
At the same time, advertising, which pays the wages of the people who write against ‘the old’, paints a very different picture.
But it’s not helpful, and probably feeds this resentment.
‘Pensioners’ are seen taking expensive holidays and cruises, living in upmarket homes, enjoying life to the full and so on.
Far from reality in most cases as you and I know.
And then there are the adverts about life insurance, so that your children don’t have to pay for your funeral and so on, and hey, you get a free pen!
(I have enough ‘free pens’ coming unasked for from all sorts of sources to keep me going for several lifetimes!)
And then of course to pay for all this luxury there are the companies who want to buy your house on the cheap through ‘equity release’ or a ‘lifetime mortgage’.
They know that most retired people have no way of affording all the luxuries the advertising media say they should be enjoying without doing this, or cashing in their pension for one big fling and then having nothing left to live on.
For us ‘old folks’ these inconsistencies could be very confusing, and for many it is because they can’t understand what they are ‘supposed to do’.
Unfortunately, many end up ‘doing nothing’ and succumbing to Shakespeare’s ‘seventh age of man’ and simply waste away.
But you and I know different.
You and I don’t subscribe to what we are ‘supposed to do’ by society, the state and the media.
You and I will only ‘retire’ when we’ve finished what we know we are supposed to do, when we’ve built our dream, when we’ve achieved our vision.
When we’ve done what we came here to do in the first place, however long it took for us to find out what that was.
Unlike most people who have very little idea about why they are here or what they are really supposed to be doing, you and I do.
You and I know.
And we can help the others.
We can help people who ‘don’t know’, particularly those who are approaching that critical line between “labour and sorrow”, to find their purpose, to find their reason for carrying on, to create their vision and importantly show them what they need to do and how they need to do it.
We can help them to stand firm in the face of what they may see as inevitability and not ‘retreat’ but find another way, because there is a better way.
I’m on a mission to find more people to join us.
Who do you know . . . ?