Retirement or not?

We have been debating here at InFactuation the pros & cons of retirement. Retirement is a relatively new concept. Up to quite recently, the last 100 years or so, the vast majority of people used to work until they dropped. Retirement was started by the German emperor to reward soldiers when they finally retired from the army.  I know that many people hate what they do & long for that day when they will be retiring; I appreciate that. Many jobs are the equivalent of national service men being told to dig a hole & then fill it in again. And for many many people retirement is a welcome respite from their normal job. And they do enjoy their retirement however long or short that may be. But often retired people find retirement isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Boredom & quite simply not being used to being at home all day is a big problem. There is the well known saying “I married you for better or worse but not for lunch.” Married couples often discover that they don’t get on with each other quite as well as they thought they did. Retirement can be bad for your health. The companionship & challenge & stress (there is good stress & bad stress) of work is life giving & healthy. There is so much that can be done. Work is work & can be interesting or boring, paid or unpaid. The true value of work is whether it is useful or not. A doctor & a teacher can always find something else to do & anyway their work is more useful than for example selling space. My father was a doctor & he went on working until into his eighties & until he contracted the illness which in the end killed him. Stanley Johnson, Boris Johnson’s father – I am not endorsing the present mayor I hasten to add – is always going on this expedition or that project in this continent or that country & he is, I think, in his eighties. He has said that people should not get free public transport until the age of 80 & even though I do now enjoy this privilege I in fact agree with him. Older people can look after their grandchildren & love doing this. Of course there are many things which younger people do which older people cannot. But conversely there are many things which are in fact better done by older people. I am thinking of private tuition, gardening, working in shops, reception work, working in advice bureaus & the priesthood. Old people can be better than young people at all this & I am sure there are other activities of which this is true. Older people have a reputation for greater reliability than young people & for taking less sickness time. And then there is the problem of demographics. The Western world is top heavy. It has too few young people looking after too many old people. In the end the experience & knowledge of older people will have to be utilised. I, myself am 64. I have no intention of retiring at 65. I hope not to retire for a good many years after that. Be careful what you eat & what you don’t eat, stay in good health & be happy. Retirement? Don’t do it.

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