by Misha LJ Stallworth, Director of Arts and Culture
Of all the moments I should have known my last relationship wouldn’t work out, one of the most glaring is that while I have been thinking about retirement for years, he hadn’t even considered it yet.
Perhaps he is more typical of people my age—some of my peers are contributing to employee benefits programs if they have the option—but how many are really dreaming and planning for life after required scheduling?
In this American culture that so values being busy, I think it’s difficult for my peers and much of society to consider a time when they won’t be working. However, I know from my many relationships with people over 60 that the image of shifting into a life of endless daytime television is not what retirement looks like.
Retirement, as a withdrawal from working society, is actually a misnomer. I have met and worked with so many people who have started a brand new life with different goals, learning, and accomplishments after having finished their first careers. They have started businesses, cultivated creative skills, and found new ways to serve their communities. There are people like Mr. Rodwan who took time to develop his photography skills and published a book with his son. He’s participated in performances with his work and recently had a Midtown gallery opening for his art. Or Mr. Charlton who started a second career as an executive in technology. My grandmother is 84 years oldand has had at least 3 retirements, each time beginning a new project and now serves on organizational boards, mayoral committees as well as writing and publishing her own books.
Because of these people I’ve been so fortunate to know, I think of my life in chapters. This career I’m working on now is one chapter characterized by goals I want to achieve, having less autonomy in creating my schedule, and the necessity of income. I’m dreaming about the next chapter when I have more freedom and flexibility to publish my book of poetry, work in animal rescue, and launch whatever world-changing initiatives I fancy. Retirement is not ceasing to work; it’s ceasing to work on one thing and moving on to the next great adventure. Who wouldn’t want to plan for that?