A grande dame of British theatre, Judi Dench, spoke with Anderson Cooper just before the release of the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2012 making crystal clear she has no plans to rest on her laurels and retire. In another interview she remarks about retirement: “I just think you ought to go on if you got the energy. If you got the energy, then everything is possible. But I think if you give up, then nothing presents itself to you anymore.”
My definition of retirement fits hers precisely: This phase in life for me is a time to re-tool, re-tire as in “put on new tires and roll on.” After decades in the teaching world, I literally took off my graduation regalia for the last time and tried on other robes: I began taking “The Lowrey Magic Organ Course” with a group (ugh), had to re-take many of the unit “speaking” quizzes in Rosetta Stone French (ugh-ugh), took up sky-diving (okay, an exaggeration!). But I had lunch in the middle of the week with friends, reveled in grandmother-hood full tilt.
I still relish the grandmother role and I often have lunch mid-day with friends or a pedicure mid-week, but my writing life has taken over the hours I spent in the classroom and grading papers after-hours. Blogging/writing is my new calling, requiring both head and heart, what I missed most about teaching anyway.
Recently, at Mother’s house I picked up the July 2014 issue of PURPOSE, a Mennonite publication containing “stories of faith and promise,” similar to those offered in Guideposts magazine. Here are some choice bits, including one from a 20-something:
- Katie Funk Wiebe, the grande dame of Mennonite Memoir in my opinion, writes in her essay Looking Back from the Mountaintop: “At age 89 I am standing on a mountaintop. Below me is my life journey: there I stumbled, there I found footholds, there the path took a hairpin turn into darkness, there I found light . . . .” Her conclusion? “There may still be a distance to climb.”
- In her essay “From a Fire Escape,” Dorothy Beidler admits “I have more questions than answers and that is definitely okay with me. Later she urges, “Find your niche, your passion, your soul gift.” Even in retirement.
- Former CEO and business owner Burton Buller notes the difficulty in relinquishing the idea of being in charge but now is being inspired by “a newfound sense of gratitude.”
- Melodie Miller Davis ponders the name for her new phase with her title “Final Quarter, Final Third?” letting this time of her life reverberate with purpose and intention to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” or Kris Kristofferson’s lyrics “Bread for the body and song for the soul.”
- Marian Durksen Wiens speaks of the richness of being reused and recycled as she and her husband return to volunteer in Korea, a land where they had previously worked.
Finally, a 20-something, Marcus Rempel, acknowledges that though dreams of a well-insured future lie “crumpled at [his] feet like a balled-up newspaper,” he values the safety network of family in this life and eternal life in the age to come.
The idea of retirement is a fairly new one. In the early twentieth century when life expectancy for men and women was in their 40s and 50s, retirement was practically unknown, certainly not seen as a sizable chunk of time. Now many men and women can expect to live 20-30 years beyond retirement age.
In the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the Judi Dench character, Evelyn Greenslade, supplies the narration “book-end to bookend . . . and keeps a blog of her activities” from the opening sequence to the Day 51 moral that ends the film ‘We get up in the morning, we do our best.'”
Like her, when I get up in the morning I aim to do my best, especially on days I can connect with my friends in the blog world.
Your aim – in the morning?
In retirement? We value your thoughts!