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For different people retirement has different meanings. For some people it is high time to pursue the dreams of their whole life which they never reached because of the lack of time. For others, retirement presupposes boring life at home until the final breath… So what retirement really is?
To find this out, I interviewed two people. One of them is retired for 12 years (Mr. Anthony). The other person just got recently retired (Mrs. Eleanor). Surprisingly or not, but their answers sometimes differ too much showing us two opposite sides of the life after retirement.
Before the retirement Mr. Anthony worked as an attorney – he has a very good education and always dreamt to work in this field. Mrs. Eleanor changed several occupations; her last one was a dish-washer in a small restaurant. She finished several courses to get qualified for different works. She dreamt to read literature at the university but never managed to do so. Mrs. Eleanor says that she does not feel that her life changed after the retirement much. The only thing is that she does not need to get up at 7 am to get ready for work. She continues doing what she liked to do: taking care of her flowers in the small garden patch she has in front of her house, reading classics and some contemporary literature, trying to spend as much time as possible with her two grandchildren and going to drink tea with the ladies from her neighborhood. Mrs. Eleanor confesses that despite the fact that she does not have any good education, she dislikes stupid people very much. She cannot bear spending even half an hour with the person who ever told her that he or she does not like reading. Books for her are the biggest treasure given to us by time. She says that she finds everything for the peace of mind and pleasure for soul in those books. She visits a group of such bookworms each Sunday morning and Wednesday evening where they share the knowledge, ideas, thoughts, desires and do many things together.
Mrs. Eleanor is a great animal-lover. She has a cat and fish. She states that life without a cat is not a real life. When we care for animals, we find more pleasure in life. We are more content, calm and easy-going. To love animals and care for them means to be kind-hearted to her.
For Mr. Anthony the situation is more complicated. His job always brought him a lot of satisfaction and was the number one priority in his life. He spent on it more time than with his family. If he had such an opportunity he would never retire at all. But still he tries to use his time as effectively as possible now. He says that it was the most difficult the first year, now he is quite used to his retirement and even enjoys it a lot.
According to Mrs. Eleanor she was quite happy to quit her job. She admits that her life was a little bit of disappointment as her main life goal was never reached. But she learnt to enjoy each moment of the life she had and tried not to think about past too often. She thinks that happy people never really think of their pasts. For them it is just experience and well-learnt lessons. She worked at the restaurant just for money. This job did not bring her much moral satisfaction and was quite exhausting as she needed to spend too much time on feet without enough relaxation. Nonetheless, Mrs. Eleanor liked the people who worked with her. Most of them were under 30 so she got plenty to learn from them. She admits that for older people the best teachers are young inspired enthusiastic active individuals who help older generations to look at the world with hope. Mrs. Eleanor never loses hope for the youth. She always advises them to do everything to make their dreams come true, to try as many new things as possible and never give up. So when she reached her retirement age, she simply quitted without much regret.
For Mr. Anthony the need to retire was almost like a heart stroke. His grandson is also an attorney and he felt obliged to give the ability to work to Charlie. He felt that he needed to stop – not because he wanted but because ‘Way for the youth’ principle of his life. He admits that it was quite self-sacrificial and undesirable for him to retire but he remembered times when he was young and wanted to start his own business but could not find enough skills and money for that time. During the first year of his retirement Mr. Anthony often came to his old office to observe Charlie’s work. He confesses that he could not restrain from giving constant pieces of advice everyone in the office which annoyed them too much, and with time passing he noticed that he was not quite a desirable guest there anymore so gradually his visits there became rarer and rarer until he stopped coming at all.
But now Mr. Anthony is a changed man. He realized all the beauty of retirement after a while and made many plans which keep him occupied and happy till today. He persuades that the worst time-health-and-mood-killer is laziness that is why he tries to escape it as much as possible and recognizes that he is very good at doing so. The first benefit of the retirement is ability to travel as much as he wishes. He tries to go on an interesting tour once each 2-3 months. He says that he has never thought that the world is that wonderful. He retells that all those bright pictures on the Internet and flashy magazines are nothing comparing to the real places, real feelings, real impressions. He used to travel alone but now he has got many friends around the whole world and they often strike a meeting at some exotic places in the God-forgotten corners of the world. When he cannot travel abroad, he tries to discover some good places in the United States.
All other time Mr. Anthony spends with his big family. He tries to give them as much attention as possible making up for all the years of being a real workaholic. He likes to play golf and read biographies of successful people.
Mrs. Eleanor is quite good householder and wife. Her duties about the house did not changed much since she retired but she says she started stitching. She always takes more of the household chores on her shoulders than her husband as she simply likes to do them.
Mr. Anthony was never much into work about the house. But his neighbor showed him some of the preferences of gardening so from time to time, when he is in the mood, he likes to work in the garden. He lost his wife long ago before his retirement and now he stays with his daughter and her husband. He sold his house after his wife died.
Both of them agree that retirement gives you a lot of time for family and friends. It is also very important to keep the body healthy that is why to enroll into some yoga or fitness class and walk a lot will be more than good.
Neither Mr. Anthony’s nor Mrs. Eleanor’s places of employment helped them with the retirement process. Mr. Anthony was the owner of his business so the only two persons who could help him with this transition were himself and his psychologist who helped him a lot to enter a new stage of life.
At the restaurant where Mrs. Eleanor worked, the flow of people is quite speedy – no one stays too long at the same position so the managing top does not really care about would-be retirees.
Their opinions coincide on the pieces of advice for potential retirees. They both say that it is very important to have friends who will retire at the same time with you and also those friends who retire just soon before you will. To keep closer with the family is a number two priority. And another very important thing to do is to always self-develop, to learn, to try new things, to challenge yourself, to broaden your worldview. It is very good when you sketch a plan just before retirement or, better, during your entire life write down what you would do when you retire.
Concluding from what I got to know I would like to summarize that retirement process is different for different people. Mostly the higher social level you supported during your life, the more difficult it would be for you when time for retirement comes.
What we should never forget that we are social beings, that we will not be who we are without our family, friends and even strangers in the streets. That is why we should keep up all the possible contacts with those who have or had some meanings in our lives, who played their important and not very important roles.
The older you become, the more attention, love and care you want. You become as a child again who does everything to possess the attention of the people around. But to have this all we must live correspondingly. To have love, we should give love, to be cared of – to care of others.
Women usually adjust to changes in their lives easier than men do but when both men and women stay together, hand in hand, nothing can conquer them. Retirement can be an interesting and very enticing stage of life, but it is up to us how it will begin, continue and end. Our lives are in our hands, let’s never let them down!
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