It seems like most of the advice about retirement is to keep working. Experts cite financial and health benefits, as well as the ongoing need for people to live with purpose. Apparently, only a job provides such purpose?
Of course, I disagree work is the solution for most of life’s woes, and I’ve been toying with the idea of penning an op-ed about the case for retirement. I’m still fleshing it out, but my basic premise is that we add layers and layers of accommodations and behaviors to earn a living, and we start to believe that’s who we really are.
Or perhaps we just accept who we’ve become. The workplace is a powerful force, but everything changes if you have the financial resources to exit.
Retirement can be the opportunity to discover or re-discover who you are when nobody is watching. I’ve been searching for a metaphor. The first one that came to mind is of a snake shedding its skin. Snakes shed their skins because they are growing, and the old skin no longer fits. That sort of applies to how we evolve in retirement, but I think it misses one key point.
If it’s true we add layers to survive, then shedding them over time returns us to our natural state. That’s not how it works with snakes, so I’ve been trying to think of another metaphor. Perhaps we are more like furniture being stripped of multiple layers of paint to ultimately reveal the lush original wood.
I’m several layers away from exposing bare wood, but I’ve been blowing some dust and cleaning up a lot of paint chips. I want to see what’s underneath.
Are you morphing in retirement? How would you describe it?
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.