Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 509(296) Finding Value

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

I've entitled this podcast "Finding Value".

Do I want to see a movie about zombies or Batman? Or tweet to the world the music I am listening too or the books I am reading? Not hardly. It is a youth centered culture. The world is not made for the elderly or the retired. We have a way of disappearing. We live alone. Or move, or are moved into retirement communities or retirement homes where we do not interfere. It is hard to accept when you are the one being discarded.

This all sounds disconcerting and of course it is. We fight against it. The need for recognition does not end with retirement. It is a basic human need. We need to feel  valued from birth to death.

We have all seen young children standing at pools edge waiting for someone to watch them dive in. They stand and cry, "watch me, watch me". They repeat the process over and over again. We all continue this practice throughout life. We need recognition. We move from swimming to coloring, to running, to reading, to crafts, to arts, to gardening, to science or poetry; a profession. In each instance we demand attention.

If we are lucky we have a spouse or life partner who does give us attention, love and this sense of value. Our own children also meet this basic need. The importance of this can not be overestimated. This situation is not valid for all: death, divorce, no children, estranged children can all change the picture. A spouse, or partner and children are not part of the picture for many.

Even when children are part of our lives they eventually become adults. They become busy. They are getting paid for work performed. Their boss recognizes their importance to their work. They have customers or clients that notice and appreciate their presence and efforts.  They have kids who recognize them as their providers. They take them to school, feed, clothe, shelter and love them. We older folks no longer have these people watching or depending on us.

No one knows if we arise at 6am or 11am. Nor do they care.  Our lunch time may vary and we may take a short or long nap. No one cares. We may read a book or watch TV in mid-day and again experience no recognition.

People use to work until they died. They lived in an extended family structure where some recognition and appreciation was assure. Today's retired people face a different life. We must create our own means of being recognized.

By the time we reach retirement age we may have truly become an adult. We have come to know at our core that we are not the center of the universe. The world does not spin around us. We have not set the world on fire. Days of standing at the edge of the pool and yelling,"watch me, watch me" are over. We can dive in without outward acknowledgement.

Hopefully we have come to the position in life where can affirm our own existence. Leading,  "lives of quiet desperation" does not have to be our mindset. Certainly we have to push the rock up the hill every day knowing it will roll down each night. But We can find our joy, or our bliss, in our own mind. I am reminded of a small section from Thoreau where writes of walking through the woods firing off his gun in a salute to himself.

A similar thought crosses my mind when i am ask to play my guitar for others. Which I never do. As you can tell from listening to these podcasts the music that leads in and out of each episode is very amateurish. I have no innate ability to play a musical instrument. But I love to practice the guitar. I love hearing the scales and sensing the quality of the sound of each note. Hours are spent each day. Instruction from a teacher never ends. Applause is not necessary nor desired.

It is this plus feeling of power. This self-actualization that can sustain us. We learn to appreciate our own thoughts, our own abilities, our own existence without the need of applause.

Retirement is not the end but can be only true entrance to self-fulfillment.

This is Retirement Talk.

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