There is much to write about these days. It is easy to discuss the politics of the day as there is abundant material available. But summer is a time of reflection and I choose to talk about the aging process.
I think about age because I am now in my mid-80s. When you reach that plateau in life, you start out being grateful that the almighty has given me these extra years to enjoy my wife, my children, and my grandchildren.
One of the questions that I hear most often Is whether I am retired? I always answer with a strong “No” because I have never contemplated retirement. I enjoy working five days a week, writing for numerous media outlets and serving on a number of boards and commissions.
I view the word “retirement” as a dirty word. In my mind, leaving a job and just giving up all work activity is a dangerous decision.
The mind and the body need stimulation and individuals need some form of stimulation. If you are lucky enough to have a serious hobby your retirement will be easier.
When a 40-year-old person tells me that they are planning to retire no later than the age 50, I wonder how that person will be able to do things that will contribute to their physical health.
Some people I know have retired in their late 30s to mid-40s, but it is only a matter of time before they start a new career, after a year of boredom.
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to continue working. If they do, choose. More types of jobs have retirement provisions there for people to retire, like it or not.
Pushing individuals out of a job is a cruel practice because many of the people forced to retire are at the point of their lives where they still have much to contribute to their companies.
Employers can hire the most talented 30-year-old to fill their job needs but they can’t get any of the accumulated wisdom that they lost when long-term employees have been pushed out the door.
An interesting case in point is New York State’s treatment of judges who reach age 70.
Once upon a time those judges were able to get a certification that would allow them to stay until the age of 75. In recent years, the state has taken a hard line about judges staying after age 70, which is the system’s loss.
I have had an interesting experience working for Japanese companies. Many of them hold onto their aging employees and in some cases use their talents to get deals done or a contract award.
Not everyone in the Japanese corporate world is given a meaningful job opportunity. But employers will choose to pay their aging employees, declining to get them to leave the company.
In 1966 I started my first team on the state Assembly. I was in my late 20s. Upon arriving in Albany, I was over surprised to learn that the average-aged Assembly member was 66. This leads me to contrast today’s state legislation to the group I served with back in the 1960s.
While definitely on in years, my Assembly colleagues come from all walks of life. They were bankers, lawyers, engineers, private business owners, and numerous other callings. Today’s legislator is much younger and, in many cases, have never met a payroll as an employer.
Given a choice between a legislature made up of experienced individuals and very young inexperienced electors, I believe the taxpayers got a lot more for their money from those older and wiser men and women. (No disrespect meant)
It is hard to define exactly when a person is considered “old.” In recent years I find that more and more people tend to hold a door open when I approach it. I am often addressed as “sir” by many young people and the other day a lovely women offered to tie my loose shoelace.
My conclusion is that growing old is really a state of mind. If you fight off the idea of being old you can occasionally win the battle. Health permitting, it is possible to enjoy old age and maybe even get a few extra years of smiles and laughs.