Do you know what baffles me? The lie that we continue to perpetuate about getting older.
Why the negative perception?
Men go through an entire identity crisis, resisting “what is” for what has been. Some even go as far as buying a quarter-million-dollar car to make them feel young again.
Women on the other hand? OH BOY. Some women are just downright insulted to be asked for their age.
Younger generations are forced to shy away from asking woman their age, in the name of “proper etiquette.”
And since younger people don’t really know any better, they can only assume that getting older is a terrible, terrible thing.
Wisdom. Knowledge. Experience. For what?
But here’s why I’m suuuuper duper dumbfounded: this belief has gone so far as to say that we should retire at old age.
*GASSSSSP* “OF COURSE, WE MUST RETIRE!”
Do you mean that once we have culminated all this wisdom, knowledge, and experience, we should just retire and shrivel our lives away onto our nursing home beds?
So what you’re actually saying is that just when we have true value to offer to a team, community, family, etc., we’re actually viewed as incompetent, sick, and as the weaker member of our society?
I truthfully don’t understand.
Now, I know where some may disagree with me. No one actually likes to work.
But, I can’t wait for the day where as a collective, we’ve all learned how to redefine what work is. At that point, I anticipate that we’ll also be re-defining retirement.
But that will require shifts on top of shifts on top of shifts in our collective consciousness.
In my world, though, I have a clear sense of what I’d like “work” to be, and I won’t stop working on myself and what matters to me until I get there.
And I can only hope that in my old age, I’m still providing value to my loved ones live’s, in one way, shape, or form.
No, I don’t believe I should be working at a 9-5, on the mentality that “I need to pay my bills.” I don’t believe we should be working until our bones give up.
And no, I don’t believe in not preparing for a peace-of-mind lifestyle in my old age (i.e. getting my finances in check).
I’m just saying: providing value, being productive, and always learning something new… is how I intend to live my life… until the day that I die.
I’ve always admired my grandmother for this reason. That lady may be old but she has enough energy to spare! She cooks, cleans, grows a garden, prepares herbs and root tonic, she’s super curious, aware of her surroundings, and very observant.
In her spare time? She travels from the Dominican Republic, to New York, and to Florida to visit her children and grandchildren.
I’m trying to be like you, grandma.
Believing in retirement is like believing in…
Believing in retirement is like believing in finding eternal happiness by winning the lottery.
It’s unreal and based all on illusions.
I mean, retirement does sound kind of enticing, doesn’t it? It’s about that time you can finally relax and enjoy the fruits of your hard work, all these years.
But the narrative is actually kind of sad. Work all your life, pay bills, retire, then die. We all know the deal.
(I’m sure many of us can poke holes in ways that life sucks, but that’s not what I’m trying to get at, here.)
What I’m getting at is that the belief in retirement continues the notion that that’s all you have to look forward to in life.
We can get more creative than that, can’t we?
Here’s why your perception towards retirement matters
Changing your perception towards retirement is important because it would completely rewire and challenge everything you have come to believe about work.
Just like embracing death now will help you to take more risks, step out of your comfort zone, and face the unknown… embracing retirement will help you think more holistically about your work.
See, the implication of retirement is that as soon as it is effective, whatever work you were doing… you no longer do.
The work chains are broken.
But by changing your perception towards retirement, you are now challenged to question and understand what type of work you would be willing to do for the rest of your life.
*DING, DING, DING*
That would be your LIFE CALLING. The reason for your existence. The value that you have to offer to the world.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like it would make this game of life a heck of a lot more fun for all of us.
Considering the value that elders can offer, why retire?
Now, we’re getting somewhere. Value. I’m sure that someone who’s had more of life’s experiences is strongly fit to offer that.
Someone who has been around longer may have some interesting perspectives on how to play this game of life right.
They’re more grounded in their understanding, knowledge, and wisdom.
We can learn by the way they chose to live their life. By mere observation, we can tap into their wisdom.
We can also tap into it by making our society more inclusive when it comes to the elder, and not considering them “weak” and “incapable.”
I’m just saying.
#2. Empowerment + independence
Have you ever noticed a 40/50 year old stressing out about what other people think?
Older people are more balanced in what they care for and what they don’t. You probably won’t find them entertaining something they’re really not interested in.
And you probably won’t find them swimming with the tide on something they could really care less about.
I can’t wait until I can say with more certainty: I KNOW ME, so get out my way bitchesss!
There’s a certain quality in older people that exudes confidence and self-assurance. They know exactly who they are and they’re not swayed by the actions or thoughts of others.
My favorite part? They do this with utmost purity and innocence. They’re literally just doing them.
Aoooow, YOU GO GRANDMA!
#4. Peace of mind
What will 50-year-old-me think? Certainly NOT: Will I be married? Will I have kids? How is my life going to turn out?
They’re not caught up thinking about these important life events that younger people do. They’ve already figured these answers out for themselves.
Either that or they’re no longer bound up to the burden of thinking that they need to have these answers!
What’s a better way to grow mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally… other than time doing its thang?
It’s a natural order of life, I believe.
And elder people have gone through alll the stages.
This also means that they could help others that are going through transitional periods of growth in their life. Because they been there, done that.
#6. Priorities straight
What better way to learn the value of time and what I chose to do with it, other than knowing that my expiration date is indefinite?
I know I would sure as hell prioritize and spend my time more wisely.
Elder people understand this.
Now, since they are older, I suspect they do have different priorities, haha. But, we can observe what it is that really matters by appreciating where their priorities are.
#7. Learning acceptance
Can y’all believe – we’re actually going to die one day? *GASP* If we can accept this, we can accept anything.
I’m sure elder people have experienced many things in life different than how they had thought it would happen. I’m also sure they learned about what it means to let someone or something go.
All in all, older people have literally had a lifetime of lessons learned. Which is why I can appreciate them.
While I enjoy observing them and learning from them, I know that the journey and the experiences I’ll be gaining are GOLD.
So here’s to the 50-year-old-me: BRING IT ON! I can’t wait to meet you, embody you, and show the world what I’ve got… wisely, gracefully, boldly, innocently, and courageously.
And get ready, because nowhere in my plans do I intend to “relax” and cease to fulfill my life’s calling.