Those words just popped into my head the other day, and I wasn’t sure why. Of course, they seemed a perfect metaphor for retirement. If you ever stepped off a moving merry-go-round as a kid, you remember the dizzying feeling you experienced. It took a while to get your footing on solid ground…not unlike the feeling you have when you step off the career carousel.
The dizziness you experience is both elation and fear… happy to be off the work merry-go-round… hopeful, yet uncertain, that retirement will turn out as well as you imagined. All I can tell you is that after flying by the seat of my pantyhose for the last six months, buying and selling property, and relocating 750 miles, it didn’t take long for me to adjust.
Of course, I’m not entirely retired…I am writing a mystery, collaborating with another writer on a Young Adult novel, sampling every writer’s group in the South Carolina upstate, co-organizing a Cozy Mystery Writers/Readers Meetup group, joining a community Garden Club, making a list of local colleges where I can teach English Composition as an adjunct next year because I miss teaching, attending every cultural event I can fit on my calendar, writing a blog…well, you get the picture.
It took some time for me to remember where today’s title words came from, but after a bit, I heard John Lennon’s voice in my head. After searching my I-tunes I found Watching the Wheels from his Double Fantasy album and played it. In the song people questioned John’s stepping off the merry-go-round. By contrast, many of my friends and former colleagues sent me congratulatory messages and a few open admissions of envy after my announcement of retirement last week on Facebook. Of course, John Lennon was only 40 years old at the time he wrote that song and the lead-off song on the album was Starting Over … don’t you ache for all the songs he didn’t get to write? Don’t you yearn for someone to express the profound as simply and clearly as he did? But I digress…
In that song, John Lennon said he was enjoying “watching the wheels go round and round”. For some of us, that’s the image of retirement we fear, but I have good news. Many of my fellow baby boomers who contacted me said they were “semi”-retired or still consulting. Whether we continue working for financial reasons, or because we are doing something we love to do, or because we just can’t imagine stopping, we need a new word to describe the period of time now known as retirement. After all, here’s the dictionary.com definition:
- 1. the act of retiring, withdrawing, or leaving; the state of being retired.
- the act of retiring or of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age
Well, neither of those exactly describe what I’ve done or what many who wrote to me are doing. Maybe we need more than one word to describe this phase of life. How about “extended earning” if you’re working for financial reasons? And “fulfillment” if you’re continuing to work because you love it? And “renaissance” if you’re doing what I’m doing?
Whether the period “formerly known as retirement” is imminent or a decade or two out there for you, I hope all of you reach the “renaissance” phase. I think it truly can be the best time of your life…the best shot you have at really doing what you’ve always wanted to do…the thing you’ve never had time to do. A time for renascence, for starting over…IMAGINE.