The Retirement Myth

Yesterday I heard from a 91 year-old woman who needed advice on finding an agent. While there is something timelessly compelling about a 25 year-old’s search for love and meaning, stories of men and women past what we call “their prime” carrying on with the business of life remains equally, if not some ways even more, inspiring.

Retirement is a myth. You may stop doing this or that, you may not be a lawyer anymore, your children may have all left home, but this does not exempt any of us from getting up every day and deciding what to do next, which is all life is or has ever been. Here yet another lovely truism about writing overlaps with a truism about life. There’s no need to ever retire from writing – as long as you are willing to write, you can write, and as long as you are willing to pursue publication, you can pursue publication.

But I understand the lure of retirement. Life can seem such a struggle, and that job, that daily set of problems we must solve, appears at times the very source of this struggle. Of course it is not. You are the source of that struggle, in that you chose that job. Some day you may choose another job, perhaps even the job of fishing or babysitting your grandchildren, in which case you will have merely exchanged one set of challenges for another.

Abandon the idea of retirement. It is a siren song. If you’re done with a job, by all means, be done with it, but understand clearly the choice you are making. You are not done with life, nor have you finally started living. Your life is never anything but a series of choices, one after the other after the other. You made your first choice when you arrived here, and you won’t make your last until your eulogy is read.

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