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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Meanings of Retirement

When I look at the various meanings of the English word "retire", I find some interesting examples, all of which, along with "leave one's occupation", appear to mean loss:  1. to recede,  2. to withdraw, 3. to retreat, 4. to move away, 5. to take out of circulation.   Could anyone who speaks languages other than English tell me if their word for leaving work is also connected to these other ideas?
One of the only positive words that I can find connected with aging is wisdom.   This is a social process indicating a deepening understanding of interpersonal relations based on extended experience.  Ironically, when older people fail to display wisdom, it is often assumed that it's because they are getting old.
Successful retirement, requires us to refine and "recycle" ourselves. To do so, we must challenge and change some assumptions about ourselves and others based on our experience.  One of the difficulties with successful aging is, rather than using wisdom, we fall into self-stereotyping connected with the ideas in the first paragraph.  For example "seniors moments" and moving away from previous connections.  These attitudes and activities are reinforced by younger people's attitudes toward
older people.  
I think that the next 15 years or so, especially if the "economic downturn" continues, will see more examples of senior stereotyping, and direct attacks on seniors as the population ages and we are held responsible because "...all they are doing is draining the resources of younger 'productive' people.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I am about ready to retire, 9 months to go. I am challenged to reconsider some very important things in my life. I think I have found a path for my "Third Age."  For so long I have been Professor Anderson, a journey that began in my second year of university when I ask my psychology professor; "What do I have to do, to do what you are doing?"  I was 19 and that was 51 years ago.

I was almost forced to retire five years ago when mandatory retirement was still in effect in BC. With the help of the Faculty Association, I resisted and became "special part-time regular".  I was still working, but only part time and my salary was cut in half.  Still I have come to see these past years as a type of bridge to the third stage of my life. As I prepare to present my retirement workshops, I ask;  "Is this really the right time for the transition?"

Now, I need to examine my strengths and weaknesses and explore my options carefully. I know that I still struggle for perfection, sometimes getting closer sometimes not.  I want this workshop to be good as possible so that both those who have already retired and those who have yet to retire can make the best decisions given their own strengths and skills.

One process I am developing to aid me in my goals is meditation. For this I thank Yongjie Yon, a close friend, who is now working at the National level to fight elder abuse. Finally, I must remember that we are all social animals and that none of us can survive by ourselves no matter how much money we have.  Our social relations are even more important than money.

What do you think?