What does “retire”mean? Why does it carry a negative connotation? I have worked hard throughout my life and am now thinking about my future retirement, but why is it dragging me down? I am twelve years away but it’s on my mind. Constantly. Is it because my child will be leaving our safe and cozy home to start college? Is it because I will no longer be needed? Have I run out of things to do? Hah! For years, I’ve seen seeing elderly working in retail, including fast food chains and wonder if they’re doing it to pass time, make extra money or there to feel relevant. Some say they’re entering the “next chapter” of their life as if life is made up of chapters and age is irrelevant. How many chapters do we get? This is indeed a first world problem.
We live in a society where age defines us. Just take a walk outside your home. Stop in Walgreen’s or your local supermarket. Notice most magazines about fashion, lifestyle and just about every other subject depict the younger generation. I’ve been cognizant of this for years and feared that all I have to read for fun will be Reader’s Digest when my time came for retirement (nothing against the publication, really – it is a wonderful product). Fortunately, there’s Oprah, Ariane and Martha. These powerhouses are sharing ideas publicly and I’m forever grateful. Of course there are tons of bloggers and while their publications may not be jumping out at you in store aisles, if you search, you shall find.
My husband considers retirement to be two things: “ultimate relaxation and pleasure” and “one step closer to death.” He says, “When I hear the word retirement, more and more I wish I could retire ASAP, I don’t want to be old and have health issues. Although I like my job, the thought of having to commute to Manhattan everyday is taxing.” I query, “Is the commute the main issue?” He replies that he wouldn’t be so eager to retire and wouldn’t mind working for a few more years but for the commute. Wow, I never knew that was an obstacle for him. To me, it’s not the commute at all. It’s being free to wake up whenever, to then do whatever, without any deadlines.
Merriam-Webster online provides multiple definitions for “retire,” some made me ponder:
- to withdraw from action or danger : retreat
- to withdraw especially for privacy
- to move back : recede
- to withdraw from one’s position or occupation : conclude one’s working or professional career
- to go to bed
- to start the next chapter (my addition to Merriam-Webster’s definition)
You see, it’s all very negative, sad, dark, leading to an end … especially the 4th bullet, “to withdraw from one’s position or occupation : conclude one’s working or professional career.” Withdraw as in backing out the way you entered, as if you made an error. How about conclude one’s career. I know it is true, but why does it make me feel distraught, anxious. It seems unfair.
In Asia, the elderly are fiercely respected. My parents enforced the notion everyday with me and my 6 siblings. So this brings me some comfort but how does that manifest into our lives. What does that look like? All this leads me to say this is a work in progress. And why I chose to explore the subject, but instead of “retire,” I decided to name my blog, “ipauhana.” Pau hana is Hawaiin for “the time after work, a time for relaxation, informal socializing with friends and family, and enjoyment. Work is finished.” I was so happy to learn this phrase; for whatever reason, it made me smile and the doom just flew away. More to come.