“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, its the life in your year”- Abraham Lincoln. My parents, both government employees, for whom Retirement just happened it was something inevitable. It was like after climbing the mountain; they are finally enjoying the view- working all their lives in one occupation, one city, built a house, now draw pensions and lead a quiet retired life. But is it the life that our parents or even we look ahead too? Not sure as a lot can change between generations. For my parents, Retirement was not the only withdrawal from their post or employment, but also their fulfilling life experiences derived from that active work life. And I have watched the happiness closely, even the grimace at the same with this word Retirement.
Retirement; is like a fallen autumn leaves; my mother said to me before her Retirement that she sees bright possibilities of life. I remember clearly her words that old leaves were beautiful in their time- from pale green with the first bud to fiery red, orange & finally yellow by the end- but there comes the point where the branch need to let go. Our work life is similar to these leaves where one needs to move on from tremendous active growth, to embrace a sedentary lifestyle. It is spring for us, and of course, there is a risk; as change is an uncertain process, whether mental, physical or social but with faith along with will power, we can subdue it. I was amazed by her thought because, throughout the working life, most are focused on children, post-retirement it might be the same. But is this important? To which my dad said, it is not indispensable, but roles get reversed with time & age; an emotional, as well as mental dependency, tends to increase. If you look at the brighter side, its end of one chapter of life & a beginning of some new & exceptional one. In a manner, he was right as age is an issue of mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it does not matter.
When we think of Retirement, what vision comes to our mind? Is it financial stability, or deciding what to do after we quit work? Well, an exciting concept was shared with me by one of my parent’s colleague towards the question- he said Retirement is not a destination, we look at its deliverance, its the pot at the remnant of the rainbow. Let’s believe it’s as a start of our third age, the longest life journey with multiple stages. And each step has its opportunities & challenges. There can be & will be numerous issues- health, death, travel, leisure, a marriage of children, or the birth of grandchildren and so forth. And if we talk about financial stability, then government employee are secured with their pension, its current generation who need to be concerned. And it’s the hard-hitting truth! He continued to add, for us, Retirement is an emotional perspective, not a financial, as we know what we are retiring from, but yet to figure out what we are retiring to? When putting together Retirement for our generation; then it is a lifestyle, a mentality, a process as well as a goal. Ideologically, we will continue to follow the same ecosystem, but with an effort towards self-fulfilment & happiness.
Peaceful it may sound, however, does not involve any compromise in aspiration – though my parents planned a simple retired life, but, with a particular lifestyle. They began to take out their passion for travel to gardening & majorly community work since both were an integral part of central government Unions; along with a clear expectation from us- on our responsibilities towards them. Ah! Welcome to the sandwiched generation, who have dual personalities, and by and most comfortable with both of them- as they cohere to the Indian tradition of family values, but also adapt amidst the rapid change in technology & digitalization which is a significant cultural shift. Innovation, trends are so impactful that they shape societal constructs, or even how people conduct their daily lives. Now my mother is a massive fan of OTT platforms, & Instagram; on the other hand, my dad still evolving to Wats app from SMS.
Alongside picking up hobbies, socializing is also an integral component of a happy retirement. A close built-in social network of colleagues and acquaintance helps maintain proportion. I was contended to see that both my parents owned a massive fan following, as people always surrounded them. It is also vital to maintain physical as well as mental health, so adding exercise as part of the routine is essential- Walking & Laughing classes are the best one as exercising and socializing happens together.
Though the concept of Retirement and its seamless transition is changing quickly. But the traditional government employees still feel the gap, as they never took Retirement in a fundamentally different manner. Hence the conventional trajectory now needs a flexible approach, where a new perspective, has to be developed to address ageism. As with ageism, more complex, emotion comes from things; that, on the surface would appear to lack the capability to cause any feeling at all, except relief that this period of your life is over. This emotion needs to be shaped up or filled upon with a positive mental frame as well as habits. Exceptional attention to health and safety, staying connected, and sustaining the confidence to live on their terms, despite the inevitable losses and setbacks in a long life, need to be the mantra.
Shedding of old leaves is extraordinary, with a trust that new leaves will grow back in the springtime. All the same, there’s a risk that the fresh leaves may not be beautiful when they grow this year, but faith that the lushest, most bountiful year is yet to come to helps build a positive mind frame. The cohort of the Indian population, meticulously plan the financial saving towards the next stage, but the transition to fill the vacuum of busy work is not scheduled. So a constructive approach needs to be made towards Retirement. Ideally, we should retire from employment; & not from experience, & this was finally adopted by my parents too.