The Retirement Ploy

“If you really want to annoy me, ask me when I’m going to retire from rock n’ roll.”

Bruce Dickinson, lead singer, Iron Maiden

This from an insurance company commercial:

  • Wife to husband returning home from work: “How was your day?”
  • Husband to wife, pausing, with resigned, weary half-smile: “Well, I’m one day closer to retirement”

The underlying assumption seems to be that each day’s primary purpose is to move us closer to the day when we can stop working and start living. And that one inevitably dislikes what one has chosen to do during the most active years of one’s life. Making retirement everyone’s all-consuming goal is big business for the financial services industry. Other retirement ads portray worried couples talking in the middle of the night about their investments, people walking around town while carrying a sign with a number that represents how much they must save in order to retire, and folks following a green arrow on the sidewalk to lead them safely to retirement. Pursuing “a life well lived” is passé, as one company’s slogan urges us to instead pursue “a life well planned.”  

What nonsense. Without dismissing entirely the notion of being prepared for diminishing earned income in one’s later years, as the pundit says, “We are forced to measure each and every moment partly in and of itself, for if everything is justified solely by the future, life becomes rather futile.”  

As the Outlaw Josey Wales told a bounty hunter: ”Dying ain’t much of a livin’.”

Hopefully you agree that inactivity and leisure time isn’t the goal; doing that which excites us is the goal, and that we must pursue our dreams and make the most of our life each and every day—now. Now is the time to believe in ourselves, to risk, to persevere, to adapt, to give and get help, and to engage with the world. Regardless of what we are working toward, here’s advocating that each of us be mindful of life-deferral, and of sacrificing too much of the present for the future. 

File under: Transform

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