Who You Calling “Retired”?

A week ago I paid a visit to my long-time barber, Paul. His mission? To make presentable the three strands of hair remaining on the crown of my head. Or is it five? Hang on, I’m going to take a look in the bathroom mirror. I’ll be back in a sec.

Here I am again. It’s five. And those motherf*ckers are lookin’ good!

Where was I? Ah yes, my barber, Paul.

Now, this guy is something else. Paul’s smart. He’s goofy, approaching the world from twisted angles. He cuts hair really well. And, despite being deep into his 70s, puts in nine or more hours at the job, six days a week. Paul’s got energy up the wazoo, and makes hordes of the world’s workers, no matter what their age, look like slackers. If he hangs up his scissors one day, the town in which his barber shop is located ought to erect a statue in his honor. And the inscription on the statue should include words such as these: “Paul’s work ethic was superb. You think you work hard? Think again, homie. Compared to Paul, you probably don’t.”

During that recent visit to Paul’s establishment, he posed a question. “How long have you been retired, Neil?” he asked while contemplating how to handle those five strands of hair.

I tensed up a bit at Paul’s inquiry. Retired? I’ve got to tell you that I don’t like the sound of that word when it’s directed at me. Sure, I left my government-work career in 2009. And sure, I’m in the early stage of my septuagenarian era. But I’m not retired, at least not by my way of looking at things. I mean, I do a decent amount of volunteer work every week. And I sweat bullets turning out the stories that I launch into cyberspace, such as the one you’re reading right now. Between volunteering and writing, I’m clocking up an average of about 20 hours of work weekly. That isn’t in Paul’s league, but it ain’t bad.

Anyway, I explained to Paul that I’m still a part of the workforce, though unpaid, and then let him have a go at the strands.

Indeed, I like to work. I need the structure that working provides, and I value the physical and mental energies that work requires. And, happily, I’m a recipient of job satisfaction: My volunteer gigs — for two shifts each week I man the information desk in a medical office building — agree with me. As does writing, though in a masochistic sort of way. The bottom line is that I have no plans to ditch my occupations.

What would occur if I put my work aside? Nothing to write home about, that’s for sure. I’d have way too many additional hours to fill comfortably. I already regularly indulge in good stuff such as concert-going, museum-visiting and traveling here and there, and don’t have the urge to devote more hours to those pursuits. No, if I stopped working I’d probably spend more time than ever on my living room sofa, where I’ve become expert at idly surfing the Web, snacking, and scratching my balls to make sure they haven’t shrunk. Working’s a better alternative.

Yes, there’s a lot to be said for working. And substantial numbers of folks in my age bracket, and older, are still heavily in the game. Some of my relatives and friends who are card-carrying seniors, for example, rival or surpass Paul in the number of hours they expend on their jobs. A few of them wouldn’t have it otherwise, being in love with their chosen fields. And then there’s the childhood pal of mine who continues to work full-time as a lawyer. I was at lunch with him last month. Unlike the people I just mentioned, he’s not fully enthralled by his occupation, but he knows himself well enough not to leave it behind. “What else am I going to do?” he asked me. “Mow my lawn all day?” He thinks like me. And he likes his place in life.

On the other hand, I also have relatives and friends in the seniors camp who no longer work and are as happy as clams. They lead fulfilling lives and have no regrets about occupying the post-employment category. You can’t do much better than that. After all, whether we’re employed or not, achieving happiness and feeling fulfilled are among our top goals, right? And by our, I’m referring, I figure, to about 75% of dear Planet Earth’s human residents, not just to seniors.

Family life, social life, work, hobbies, studying, spirituality, creative endeavors . . . these and other avenues, usually taken in one combination or another, can make our goals reality, whatever our age. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. Life’s cool that way.

Okay, sermon over. Amen. Class dismissed.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this piece. Sharing buttons are below. Mucho gracias.)

136 thoughts on “Who You Calling “Retired”?

  1. cindy knoke March 4, 2020 / 12:23 am

    The important thing is to be content with what one chooses to do or not do.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Glen available March 4, 2020 / 12:36 am

    Among the truer words you wrote Neil was your reference to work as a ‘game’. That it surely is. Some people would dub the game ‘SURVIVOR’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dfolstad58 March 4, 2020 / 12:39 am

    I’ve always believed volunteering was important, my parents showed this example to me. If not in an ongoing way, finding some way still to give to the community or a charity. I think it contributes to satisfaction with oneself and supporting community. Very satisfying also.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Darius Marley March 4, 2020 / 12:46 am

    As a guy with zero strands of hair on his head, I found myself enjoying a chuckle when I read this! On the other hand, I dread the concept of retirement, because I’ve always been the type who defines myself through the work I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 2:30 pm

      Right, untold numbers of people feel that way. If the work is fulfilling, that’s a good way to live life, I think. You’ll find, though, that other activities also will fulfill you in your “senior” years.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. margiegf March 4, 2020 / 1:07 am

    All my retired friends thought I should love retirement, and didn’t understand why it was such a tough adjustment for me. I taught high school for 37 years, and was used to a routine, lots of interaction with people, using my brain and creativity, and staying busy. Making my own schedule was very difficult; I felt lost for the first year or so. Now I have what I call a flexible routine–I travel, I run and walk, I go to films and out for coffee, I substitute teach at my old school when I feel like it. Sometimes I just sit in the recliner with my laptop and a coffee. I’ve learned to relax.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Lynette d'Arty-Cross March 4, 2020 / 1:42 am

    I read this post with great interest as I’m considering leaving my employment in a bit more than two years. My job is very high stress, and while I enjoy it a lot, there are days when I think I can feel my blood pressure going up. Actually, today was one of them. I’m looking forward to volunteering, travelling, and doing the female equivalent of ball scratching. 😉 But I wonder sometimes if it’s all it’s cracked up to be. Good post. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 2:33 pm

      Hi Lynette. I think that the thing to do, when you leave your job, is to have on hand a variety of activities, and some people, that you want to spend time with. I’m sure you will.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. endardoo March 4, 2020 / 3:52 am

    I think it is important to consider why you do what you do. If it means more than money to you, then keep on doing it. No sweat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 2:35 pm

      Right. Finding happiness, feeling fulfilled, helping others, etc. are very, very important.

      Like

  8. bone&silver March 4, 2020 / 3:59 am

    What’s that saying? ‘Live to work, don’t work to live.’ I wish everyone did volunteer work one day a week, it would make this world a better place for sure. Nice post, G 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 2:38 pm

      Hi, and thanks for adding your thoughts. There are many, many organizations where people can volunteer, as you know. Much of the work that volunteers do is really important to society.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ally Bean March 4, 2020 / 7:27 am

    Life is what you make of it and when you decide that it’s up to you to define yourself, you can be any old thing you want to be. As long as you’re not hurting anyone and you’re happy, carry on, kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. sniderjerry March 4, 2020 / 8:03 am

    Norman Vincent Peale, author of “The Power of Positive Thinking” said, ‘Forget your age and live your life.’ and me, Jerry Snider, author of “Buddy Bloom Wildflower”, I say, ROCK ON NEIL! AS LONG AS YOU HEAR THE MUSIC, ROCK ON!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 2:40 pm

      Hey there, Jerry. I think I said this once before in response to your comments: I’m trying!

      Like

  11. joyce hamilton March 4, 2020 / 8:12 am

    I enjoyed my work life but find work retirement fun. More time for travel, working out at gym everyday, going to museums etc with friends . My health is great and that is the most important .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 2:41 pm

      Joyce, you’re one of the busiest people that I know. And you are doing things that you enjoy. It’s great.

      Like

  12. Des March 4, 2020 / 8:25 am

    You’re right that there’s so many different directions that one can take after retirement. I’m a fairly recent retiree that doesn’t have it dialed in as well as you do, but I hope to get there soon. Your post gives me some things to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. sloppy buddhist March 4, 2020 / 8:33 am

    I escaped from university…best thing I ever did…not in that moment…but now as I’ve reinvented myself…it’s another chapter ☺️🤓 have a joyful day Neil ~ smiles Hedy 💫

    Liked by 1 person

  14. George March 4, 2020 / 8:50 am

    I don’t remember the last time I scratched my balls to see whether they’ve shrunk. Perhaps, I’m not doing this enough. The trouble is I already have too much I want to fit into my home life and I have feeling trying this at work might be frowned upon.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. eden baylee March 4, 2020 / 9:50 am

    Retirement is a dated word and concept, really. If you love what you do, regardless of whether you’re paid or not, then keep at it.

    How you connect to others in the real and virtual world is worth a lot.

    🙂 eden

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jacqui Murray March 4, 2020 / 10:19 am

    I’m with Eden–people change jobs, not retire from life. I like your mix of activities. I write 10 hours a day, don’t make a living at it, and can’t imagine life without my keyboard. I do wish I’d mix things up more, as you do!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. talebender March 4, 2020 / 11:06 am

    I agree about the need to keep busy in retirement. But we are, I think, in a minority of the world’s population in that we have the luxury of even thinking about that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 3:01 pm

      H. Very good to hear from you. I’m not sure that we’re in the minority, but you’re right that hordes of people can’t afford to stop working.

      Like

  18. Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter March 4, 2020 / 11:30 am

    All very true, Neil. I tick the Retired box on the sort of forms you have to do that, but I never describe myself as a retired librarian. I AM a librarian, even if I don’t get paid for it these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Laurie Graves March 4, 2020 / 11:57 am

    “Family life, social life, work, hobbies, studying, spirituality, creative endeavors . . . these and other avenues, usually taken in one combination or another, can make our goals reality. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. Life’s cool that way.”

    Beautifully put!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. SandyL March 4, 2020 / 12:22 pm

    RETIRED is such an ugly word. It sounds like something unwanted, discarded and put out to die. Not so. It’s just another stage of life. I’m lucky enough that I can get to do all the things I couldn’t do when I was younger. Except maybe sky-diving. Nice post Neil.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Robert Parker March 4, 2020 / 12:52 pm

    Yeah, you don’t seem like the retiring type, Neil. My grandfather theoretically retired at 75 and moved upstate near us, but kept driving down to NYC to finish up a few things, every other week, for years. When he stopped that, he started going to lectures at the local Forum, and doing an “Eye on the Court” thing for the League of Women Voters (so then my grandmother was employed full-time, keeping on eye on him around the Women Voters) (just kidding). Glad you’re staying in play!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 3:11 pm

      I’ve got plenty of leisure time, and probably could fill some of it more fruitfully. But overall I’m doing okay!
      Hi Robert. Enjoy the warming days.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. JT Twissel March 4, 2020 / 1:55 pm

    Those of us living in sixty year old houses, with parents in retirement homes and grandchildren to babysit know that retirement is often more work! Add to it volunteering, maintaining a blog and supporting other bloggers – doesn’t leave much time for that rocking chair on the porch.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Ann Coleman March 4, 2020 / 2:02 pm

    It’s true, work doesn’t always equate to a pay check! I walk shelter dogs three days a week, and trust me, that’s real, physical work (and I have the bruises and sore muscles to prove it), so I also get annoyed when people tell me that I don’t work. I do work, I just don’t get paid.

    As for this time of your life, I agree that everyone gets to choose how much they do or don’t want to work then. Keep on doing your own thing, Neil!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Ann Coleman March 4, 2020 / 4:51 pm

        We stay within a couple of blocks of the shelter. But that includes a park the shelter owns which is across the street. Otherwise, we just go on the sidewalks and there is a pen in the park we can use as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Paula B March 4, 2020 / 4:30 pm

    Thank you for volunteering, Neil, and thanks also for writing about the “different strokes for different folks” part of the retirement experience. Like you, I had a career in government work, and since then I’ve had people ask me what on earth I do all day. Well, like you, I spend lots of hours writing, and I also did volunteer work until my back gave out on me a year and a half ago. I’m hoping to start back with volunteering again soon, though. I do miss having daily interactions with people — the kinds of interactions you undoubtedly enjoy while manning the medical information desk. In any case, I always say that the two things I like best about retirement are 1) no alarm clocks, and 2) no need to ask anyone’s permission to take a day off. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 4, 2020 / 7:41 pm

      Paula, I have to admit that I still use an alarm clock. But your second point is something I love too: Not having to get someone’s permission is a great thing.

      Volunteering awaits your return. See ya!

      Like

  25. andrewcferguson March 4, 2020 / 5:01 pm

    Neil, you’re a constant source of inspiration for us fiftysomethings full of crazy hopes and dreams! Keep on rocking.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Brockelman March 4, 2020 / 5:12 pm

    To my thinking, by way of your writing, you’re still about 28—maybe 32 years old. And being onery, talented, clever, thoughtful, sharing, good, and giving you’re still one hell of a kid. I enjoy knowing you, Neil.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Cynthia Raff March 4, 2020 / 5:18 pm

    Neil, I just began a long reply to your blog and in the middle of it Iost it to a cyoerspace black hole. Acck! That is one reason I don’t comment more often. Sorry…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. tanjabrittonwriter March 4, 2020 / 5:50 pm

    I’m glad to hear your life is fulfilled, Neil. The problem I see for some retirees is the lack of any interest or hobby besides work before retirement. Some people in this situation manage to fill the void, but others it’s a real struggle. I

    Liked by 1 person

  29. ellie894 March 4, 2020 / 7:48 pm

    Hi Neil,
    Volunteering is great work! I do some myself and enjoy it very much. Glad you have found such a fine barber in Paul, both of you with strong work ethics.
    Take care,
    Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Rhonda March 5, 2020 / 9:07 am

    Great post, Neil! I feel we are on the same wavelength. I’m 53, work at a non-profit 25 hours a week and feel I am living my best life. My work keeps me engaged and satisfied because I’m being productive and bringing in a little money. But because it’s just 25 hours a week, I’ve got the time I never had before (working full time as a social worker) to pursue other interests. Like writing my blog, spending more time with my family, being more active in my church (primarily through service projects and social gatherings). I feel much more alive and enthusiastic about life as a result.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. D. Wallace Peach March 5, 2020 / 9:27 am

    It’s interesting that only “paid” work is considered work, and therefore, if you’re not “paid” you’re “retired.” My husband subscribes to this viewpoint about me even though I volunteer every week in the community, care for grandchildren and parents, write about 40 hrs per week, and do all the wifely cooking and housework. I think he’s retired at his measly 40-hour job. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 5, 2020 / 10:33 am

      You know, a previous commenter said something to the effect that “retired” is an outdated term. I think that’s true.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. cincinnatibabyhead March 5, 2020 / 4:22 pm

    You are a funny guy Neil. I hear there’s some wack jog in Philly actually plucking the last strands of hair off of guys your age. Be careful and keep your eyes open (maybe a hat). I wonder what he’s using the hairs for?

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Anonymous March 5, 2020 / 6:07 pm

    I totally agree Neil, it takes all kinds to make a world ! In fact it’s fortunate that we don’t all do the same things. Work is actually very fulfilling much of the time, and when I retired I missed my work for the first year or two. Work pushes us beyond our routine and makes us discover new fields, develop talents we didn’t know we had.
    Alan from Paris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 5, 2020 / 8:22 pm

      Bonjour Alan. I was going to say “thanks for adding your thoughts” in French, but I’d sound stupid if I tried. Anyway, you have created a very good post-employment life for yourself. Sandy and I just got home from the Philadelphia Flower Show. If you and Martine visit us some year in March, we’ll all go to it together. It’s real good.

      Like

  34. johnlmalone March 5, 2020 / 10:00 pm

    I don’t know how happy clams are, Neil, but I’ve been retired twenty years now and I fill my time pretty well between gym, writing, spending time with my girlfriend, volunteering one day a week,
    .writing — oh, did I mention that? —visiting family. So I guess I am happy as a clam 🙂 good post, Neil; your blog always presents a meaty read best done over a slice of toast and a coffee 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Jennifer Kelland Perry March 6, 2020 / 8:14 am

    I laughed out loud at your opening, Neil. 🙂
    But I hear you. I think if a person is bored in retirement, she is just a boring person!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Paddy Tobin March 6, 2020 / 9:02 am

    Only catching this now – busy in retirement just like you. I do no work but keep myself busily occupied with gardening, days out, photography, reading and writing and I have do desire whatsoever to return to any sort of work work. My mother in law used comment on her work that it was a reason to get out of the bed, to wash her face, to get out and to meet people. Without that, she felt life would be very quiet and lonely for her.

    I had a similar barber, now dead some years, who would cut my hair and say, “That’ll be £10, Paddy. That’s 50 pence for the haircut and £9.50 for the time it took me to find it.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 6, 2020 / 1:53 pm

      Hi Paddy. I can tell from your articles that you are heavily involved in various activities, and that you get a whole lot of satisfaction from them. To a large extent, that’s what life is about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paddy Tobin March 6, 2020 / 4:52 pm

        Yes, that and beer!

        Liked by 1 person

  37. Barbara Froman March 6, 2020 / 12:03 pm

    Great piece, Neil. “Retired?” What’s that. When my husband left the university where he’d taught for 35 years, he told people he “graduated.” That seems a good way to look at. We just move on to new pursuits, whatever gives us pleasure! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Joe March 6, 2020 / 7:17 pm

    Hey Neil, You didn’t mention your part-time job of walking around and looking at things. I think that would look good at the top of your resume.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. viewfromoverthehill March 6, 2020 / 11:28 pm

    That’s why there is vanilla AND chocolate ice cream, right? There are many paths to take in life, and the one that feels right for you is the right one. Cheers. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Pam Webb March 7, 2020 / 12:11 am

    I like the comment I overheard one time: My husband is retired. Me? I’m tired, over and over again.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. selizabryangmailcom March 7, 2020 / 5:28 pm

    You’re definitely a doer, not a sitter and complainer.
    It’s like Brad Pitt said in “World War Z,” — “Movement is life.”
    Physically and mentally.
    Otherwise, that’s all she wrote!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 7, 2020 / 10:21 pm

      Hi Stacey. We all need to stay physically and mentally active as best we can. Life’s better that way, for sure. Take care. Enjoy the upcoming week.

      Liked by 1 person

  42. alhenry March 7, 2020 / 5:59 pm

    “Indeed, I like to work. I need the structure that working provides, and I value the physical and mental energies that work requires.”

    I hear you, Neil. I’ve always been grateful that writing is a profession one need never give up until they toss you in the grave.So many really good people I know act as if their life ended at 50.Hey, I was just getting into my really good phase then. I say never give up, never back down, keep going no matter what, and make your enemies take you out. Don’t do it for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 7, 2020 / 10:18 pm

      You’re right on the money. We’re on this planet for only x number of years. Might as well try to make a real good go of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  43. Annika Perry March 8, 2020 / 8:10 am

    Neil, an important topic which you introduce with your usual humour! 😀 A couple of my mother’s friends were so defined by their job they were terrified to take retirement, kept putting it off! Within a year of retirement they wondered why they had feared it so and thoroughly enjoyed this next stage of their life. However, first there is a huge adjustment to make. Enjoy your volunteer work,your days and mind those strands of hairs … I’m worried the barber’s scissors seemed awfully close to them! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Silver Screenings March 8, 2020 / 4:35 pm

    My parents retired a few years ago, and now I can hardly ever reach them. They are so busy! But, like you, they seem happy and fulfilled, and I’m proud of them for living the life they want to live.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. ckennedyhola March 9, 2020 / 10:08 am

    I like the structure that work brings as well–in all of its forms–paid or unpaid. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Pam Lazos March 9, 2020 / 5:15 pm

    Neil, I had no idea you worked for the government — as do I. Cheers to public servants. May they never go out of fashion. And I don’t think retired is a name that fits you either. ;0)

    Liked by 1 person

  47. cath March 10, 2020 / 6:50 pm

    I like your thinking, Neil. I feel I’ve been lucky in never having had to spend long in a job I didn’t find interesting. You sound like you’ve found a comfortable balance, that’s quite a trick to achieve – my congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 10, 2020 / 8:25 pm

      You enjoy your work. That’s an excellent thing. It makes life better.

      Hi Cath. Thanks a lot for adding your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

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