Hugh Pickens writes:
Peter T. Kilborn writes in The New York Times about the generation of the baby boomer programmers, engineers, and technical people who are now leaving the bosses, bureaucracies, commutes and time clocks of their workaday careers to tackle something consuming and new, whether for material reward or none at all. “Retirement gives them the opportunity to flex their experience,” says Dr. William Winn speaking of a postchildhood, postfamily-rearing, “third age” of “productive aging” and “positive aging.” Nancy K. Schlossberg calls men and women who exploit the skills of their old jobs “continuers" and those who take up something new “adventurers.” Continuers and adventurers make up the vigorous end of Dr. Schlossberg’s retirement spectrum, opposite those she calls “retreaters” who disengage from life and “spectators” who just watch.
For example, 75-year-old Seth R. Goldstein, with four degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from MIT and retired for thirteen years, still calls himself an engineer. But where he was previously a biomedical engineer with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda with 12 patents, he now makes kinetic sculptures in his basement workshop that lack any commercial or functional utility. But his work, some of which is on display at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, has purpose. Goldstein is pushing the envelope of engineering and hoping to stir the imaginations of young engineers to push their own envelopes. For example "Why Knot?” a sculpture Goldstein constructed, uses 10 electric motors to drive 10 mechanisms to construct a four-in-hand knot on a necktie that it wraps around its own neck. Grasping, pulling, aligning and winding the lengths of the tie, Mr. Knot can detect the occasional misstep or tear, untie the knot and get it right. Unlike Rube Goldberg’s whimsical contraptions, Mr. Goldstein’s is no mere cartoon. It works, if only for Mr. Knot.
According to Kilborn, people like Goldstein don't fit the traditional definition of retirement, which according to Webster's Dictionary means the "withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life." Retirement implies that you're just leaving something; it doesn't reflect that you're going to something," says Schlossberg. "But it is really a career change. You are leaving something that has been your primary involvement, and you are moving to something else."
I couldn't agree more. I was partly forced into early retirement (at age 55) due to having to care for someone who has severe medical problems but, nevertheless, the quality of life that one can enjoy if you can achieve financial independence is not to be under-estimated. I was lucky in that I had a good pension plan that will mean we can live comfortably - not extravagantly nor without having to watch where we spend money - but I do not have to work to eat or stay warm and secure. The biggest problem today, IMHO, is that life for many people is centred around having to work hard for many years just to live at a basic level , with no opportunity to invest in their future. Then the government suggests that, as we are living longer, we should be working longer whereas we should be looking at getting some quality time with the ones we love or doing things that are important to us. Yes, I understand the need for taxes and the increased cost of welfare for all these people that are living longer, but there is little incentive to live longer if all that will result is that you have to keep running on the treadmill until you can no longer benefit from those extra years.
Once you have retired, the next most important part is keeping the brain and body active. And that's where my technical interests and hobbies become more important to me.
Well, my situation is somewhat similar and I largely agree with your comments.