Bankson, Marjory Zoet. Creative Aging. Rethinking Retirement and Non-Retirement in a Changing World. Skylight Paths Publishing. 2010
M.Z.B.- an artist and spiritual guide. Former president of Faith At Work and editor of Faith@Work magazine. Currently teaching on spiritual companionship at several schools.
A relevant book with practical advice and teaching for those who want to prepare for retirement and/or who are in early stages of retirement.
The time from age sixty to seventy-five is identified as the “generative period” for retirees. Retirement has taken on a new meaning. It is a transition not a cessation and that involves a ‘call’ to a new stage of life. There are seven stages to this transition; “release, resistance, reclaiming, revelation, risk, and relating”. (4) (Sounds like a sermon outline.)
Just like ones life-work is (should be) determined by a ‘call’, attention needs to be given in mid-life to a call as retirement approaches. (This provides a very important element of anticipation of a career change from success to significance. HD) Such a call will probably include a re-visiting our identity as we consider what our new work will be and how we are gifted for that work. Transition involves an ending with some level of loss and/or grief and a beginning with some level of risk.
For those who don’t have a planned or mandatory retirement there are signs that suggest that this option should be considered. “Release is never as simple as it sounds.” (27) Experiences of career changes are beneficial in adapting to transition. When planning and anticipated adjustments are addressed they result in good ‘closer’.
Resistance is natural and normal when there is a transition from ‘doing’ (success) to ‘being’ (significance). “There is wisdom in rest- and ‘wasting time’ between purposeful activities.” (43) “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” (Ten Commandments) There is a path that leads through the resistance to change, from doing to being.
Retirement is the time we have the opportunity to “Reclaim riches from the past”. (55) These could be talents, skills or buried gifts. In the process of these ‘discoveries’ we should expect some level of pain and suffering. Pay attention to your dreams.
Revelation will be part of discovering all the potential newness of the changes in retirement. Search with expectation. Don’t lose sight of reality and risk in your decisions regarding change. “Desire to be useful.” (106) There is a whole world out there with potential for community, personal connection and rewarding service.
“If, as we cross the threshold into this gift of extra time that we have received so gratuitously, we can let our ego boundaries soften to permeable state and let ourselves receive the grace that surrounds us every day, then we will find enough light to take the next step on the backpacker’s trail that is ours on a journey of creative aging.” (135)
I am in my twentieth year of retirement and I want to take a liberty to add a few of my own comments that I feel relate to this resource. I took an early retirement from teaching. One of my motivators was the statistic of the extended life-span of early retirees. I and my wife have been blessed with good health. We have had very fulfilling experiences as volunteers in non-profit organizations that involved some interesting travel. We enjoy the “wealth” of our family community; five children and their spouses, thirteen grandchildren and eight spouses, and five great-grandchildren. Life is good. For most of my retirement I have carried on me my personal card which has this ‘text’ on it, “committed to adding flavour and light to lives of people I meet”. You might say I am a ‘raving fan of retirement’.
“Retirees are an untapped resource for meaningful service to an expectant, appreciative community.”