Those disappearing strings.

They’re shifting, dissolving, resolving, evolving — those strings — the ones that join loose pieces, and the ones that ground us, keep us from drifting into various netherworlds, the ones that tie bloodlines together. So much shifting these days.
I was one of those who noticed that Tom Shugart had become missing in action. But now he’s back. At least for now.
Can you imagine? He’s tired of being retired! Wants to get back into the old grind. Except that today’s grinding machine is not the one he left behind. He let go of the string and can’t seem to catch hold of it again.
There was a point in my life at which I looked forward to retirement. I was tired of all of the strings I was expected to keep weaving together every day. They were not my strings. I looked forward to playing with strings of my own choosing.
Several organizations in which I had been involved had asked me to serve on their boards. And then there was the ballroom dancing. I once considered teaching it after I retired. I thought of all the time I would have to create wearable art, to get involved in that community, do all the craft shows that abound this time of year.
Uh uh. Parenting a parent hasn’t left much time to do all of that. Neither has my aging spine left much opportunity. But I still don’t miss going to work.
One of my best friends who retired several months ago is so busy traveling and lunching and socializing that she can’t imagine how she had a life before she retired.
I’ve found that men I know seem to have a harder time adjusting to retirement than women. Is it because we women tend to have lots of other things that we like to do and work actually got in the way of our doing them? Is it that we have hobbies and interests that we can’t wait to pursue when we finally have the time?
On the other hand, the husband of a friend of mine retired when he was fifty from a job he didn’t really like in order to spend his time building furniture — on his own time, in his own workshop, using his own designs. His wife liked her job and so she continued to work.
Back to the first hand, one of my cousins, who retired from college teaching and whose pension was more than he made teaching, says he’s going to accept an offer to go back and teach. Go figure.
As more and more jobs dissolve, as careers disappear, more and more retirement-age people are going to find themselves (sooner than they expected) facing several decades that they will have to fill with something.
I’ve always believed that kids need to learn more than just the traditional school subjects. They need to learn to be curious, to explore, to develop creative interests beyond those that prepare them to earn a living. It seems to me that, given what life in the future will look like, it’s all the more important to give students those learning experiences, to give them a chance to experiment with lots of brightly colored, multi-stranded strings, to begin imagining what kind of vibrant life they might one day weave for themselves.
In the meanwhile, Tom, if you’re getting bored and miss having all that stress, I’ll trade lives with you for a while. You won’t have much time to miss the challenges of the consulting business.

5 thoughts on “Those disappearing strings.

  1. There is some dangers to all of this. My local Walgren is almost completely ran by people at least 65, most likely older. And that’s cool, but then, there’s about 7% or more unemployment in this area.
    As older people are finding their money isn’t stretching so they have to work. That’s fewer volunteers for orgs dependent on them. And that’s less jobs for people below retirement age.

  2. Yup. The waters are roiling around Bush’s policies and the only ones who aren’t drowning are the ones who live the high life. I’m really lucky that I have a government pension that I can survive on and that includes inexpensive health insurance. My offspring are the ones who are suffering like so many others their ages. I have this vision of them having to move back in with me — except now I live in a small one-bedroom apartment.
    I guess I’m just super aware these days of things falling apart — big picture, little picture; inside, outside. These are nasty, nasty time, thanks to those who somehow get elected to control our lives.

  3. Thanks for the offer to trade, Elaine, but I’ll stick with the problems I’m familiar with. As I’ve always said, I can’t even fathom caring for a parent at my age.
    You’re quite right. Our society may very well be headed for some severe crises down the road around the retirement issue. It’s something I may be looking at in my upcoming posts.
    Meanwhile, it’s not stress I’m looking for, it’s engagement–not service clubs or social work, but engagement with something personal at stake,
    i.e., wherewithal, pride, and a chance to make it possible for my bride to slow down a bit.
    I’m just the vanguard. Most seniors, I would bet, in the upcoming decade or so, are going to have to work–but at what? A lot of them, if they’re like me, would beg on the streets before they’d give the honor of their labor to the rapacious likes of Wal-Mart et al.
    My mother was right. She used to say that if you were smart, you’d get a job with the government or the unions.

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