Adam Ash

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bookplanet: Writers don't retire, why should anyone?

I'm a writer, and I hope to continue writing until the day I die. I can't think of a single reason why anyone would want to retire, unless you like playing golf more than you like your work. The idea of retirement as some golden age of leisure after a lifetime of struggle is bull. Retirement is not a reward, it's a death sentence, a preparation for death, a surrender to infirmity, not a life reward. The Pope thought about retiring, but he stayed on the job, even though he was suffering from Parkinsons. I wonder if I will die in the middle of writing a book, or if I will be able to time it perfectly, so I die on the day I do my last rewrite.
If your job is something you're looking forward to retiring from, why are you doing it? You should be doing something you want to keep on doing until you pop off. Retirement is a stealth technique of youth to get valuable old people out of the way. Listen, if you're too old to be the CEO, because they need great energy, that doesn't make you too old to be a valuable advisor to the CEO. Old people could keep on doing their jobs as advisors to those taking those jobs over if they don't have the energy to give it their all anymore. There's something ghoulish about sending old people off to pasture like old horses. If I ran a company, I would keep my old people on, perhaps at a cut in pay, and for shorter hours. Why cut them off when they're at their most experienced?
My advice to you is if you want to retire, get yourself another job: one you like so much you don't want to retire from it. If the Pope, and Prince Ranier, and the Queen of England can keep their jobs until the end of their lives, so should the rest of us. If you read any book on retirement, it sounds like preparing for a new job, anyway. In The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, the authors, Cullinane and Fitzgerald, say that the 80m baby boomers due to retire over the next couple of decades face a daunting array of options and decisions related to work, money, health care, lifestyle and more. They offer a comprehensive guide to navigating this complex maze, including the stories of real people who have made certain choices, from starting a business later in life to moving to a new community or traveling overseas. Doesn't this simply sound like continuing a job by other means?


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