Darn, there she goes again.Meryll is reminding me of promises (I'd call them intentions) made in a different life context. It's true that I suggested last week that I would grab the baton from Meryll and write about retirement.
But that was last week when I would have said,"with all the time and attention we give to our careers, shouldn't we give that type of thought to planning the logistics of our retirement? Where are our retirement handbooks?" I did find the Idiot's Guide to Retirement Planning.
But that was a week ago, before one friend retired to take care of her husband's ALS and another was hit with a life-changing diagnosis.That was before I saw "Wrestling with Jerusalem" that gave 17 perspectives of the Israeli/Palestinian impasse in a one man show, and before I saw the Jordanian film "Theeb" about life and death choices regarding honor.It's before I saw "The Martian."
This week I view the topic from a more intergalactic plane.I have been on a desensitization campaign for my sixtieth birthday so that words like retirement, sixty, and hip replacement don't scare me. I insert them into lots of conversations.When I did that last night with a friend, an attorney who recently got a masters in Public Health, she talked about how she's ready to head out of the gate again into the career rodeo.
In 1973, when I begrudgingly set foot onto the Wellesley College campus, expectations were low and possibilities were tremendous. My parents would be happy if I had a good education, could earn some money and meet a nice man Let's add that I was the third child, accepted for being the fun-loving (though actually depressed) underachiever.I officially thank my parents for the perfect recipe for success.So begins the story of my developing a career not unlike a juicy, lengthy and digressive love story. [Please read note below if you are getting irritated]. I followed my heart with lots of detours; but, in the end, here I am in a job I love with only myself to blame as boss.
I am so fortunate having grown up in an era where the doors were opened for women. Thank you Ruth Bader Ginsburg and others. I realize that born five years before and entering a men's college, my sister did not flourish in the same feminist atmosphere as me.
My friends and I found ways to do our careers and our families. We questioned, doubted, but couldn't abandon work.We'll retire as we need to in our own way. I also recognize that most of us are products of privilege but still grandchildren of immigrants, so I am thankful that my parents provided and that I have a husband willing to let me take risks.
I'm not naïve. I know I have no control over the future. Each day needs to be meaningful which means connected with others, learning or doing. Aging is sobering – staying relevant, activated and engaged is challenging. It's interesting to give up center stage to another generation.
Time is relentless and we are lucky to have the present moment.So I'll be way too busy being grateful for what I have in the present to plan my retirement.I'll know when the right time is. I'm thinking that with the legalization of marijuana and assisted suicide in some states, my twilight years may be better than anticipated. I appreciated what Meryll said about complete immersion in work.My sister, my brother and I are all very intense about the work we do. See Chuck's Cspan interview from last month. [http://www.cspan.org/person/?charleslevine]
My "boss" says to me "You don't have to give me an answer when you want to retire, but you do have to go check out whether you need a hip replacement." She also says the word sixty a lot – but then she's helping to desensitize me.
Note to my dear readers:As I write this I realize how highly politicized the topic is and how highly privileged I am – in terms of being Whitish, having grown up financially secure, and still in reasonably good health.If you knew me, and I hope you do by now, I am not trying to diminish anyone for different choices or different demands in their lives. On the contrary!