Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Nature of Work

Well, Kelly has once again led us down the garden path with the blog saga. Make sure you check it out at and then of course tomorrow Amarinda will jog off in a totally different direction so check her out at today to read her take on winning the lotto.

This morning when I booted up my computer I was confronted with a news story titled "Oldest worker in America at 101"--man declares he will never stop working. Well, okay. Goody for him. It beats sitting at home on the porch. I'm wondering if there can't be a medium point, though.

Retirement is around the corner for a large segment of our population. Many of them look forward to it only to find that there are real pitfalls in moving from a daily work schedule to a life of leisure. Others never retire for fear of boredom or lack of money. Surely there is a middle ground.

One of the things I've observed is that too many retirees fail to plan what they will do after leaving their jobs behind. Then what? It's all well and good to ensure the financial security, but what about everyday life? If the individual was active and social before retirement, how will they cope afterwards--especially when the social aspects are much less?

Loneliness is the bane of retirement. On its heels is the feeling of uselessness. Since I'm in that age bracket, I'm talked to many retirees and many looking forward to retirement. Here's what I've noticed. If the retiree has a hobby or interest that keeps him or her busy and fulfilled then all goes well. But if he or she has failed to look past that day when they walk away from work, then they often suffer from depression and withdrawal.

I am officially retired. I receive a small retirement check every month which allows me to stay at home. I worked in a very high stress office environment and friends declared that I would be bored at home. Not a chance. There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. And that was BEFORE I started writing!

I believe that psychologically, we are engineered to work, to be productive. When we are unable to contribute something to society in general, even if it's only beautifying our surroundings by gardening or crocheting, we feel like failures and are disatisfied with life.

That is the inherent nature of work. In the following excerpt from Dancer's Delight, Dancer ponders his choices in a place that really doesn't need his skills.

“Can we go find Eppie now?”

“In a few minutes. Aside from bonding with my daughter, what are your plans for your future?”

“How the hell would I know?” Dancer demanded irritably. “I play music and kill people. It doesn’t seem to me that there’s much call for either skill here in your little lost utopia.”

“I wouldn’t say that. We have a great need for a capable trainer for our warriors. I suspect that your skills are more than equal to that task. And we’ve had a need for music for a long time. Over the past few years, I’ve taken to collecting any old instruments I could find. When things settle down after your oath-binding, maybe you’ll want to look at them and see if any are suitable for the purpose of training our valley children.”

“If I’m to support your daughter, what I need is a job, not just make-work to keep me busy.” Dancer sat back and drummed his fingers restlessly on the table. “This just sucks. There’s nothing here for me to do except this weird bonding with your daughter. You can only spend so much time making love. Surely there are other, more suitable men in this valley?”

“None that she wanted,” Merlyn pointed out dryly. “Since the women make that choice here, I believe that you’re stuck. But we have a barter system here, Dance. Teachers are highly regarded and are afforded high credit for their skills. If you choose to teach either warrior skills to our older young men or music to our youngsters, you will make more than enough barter credit to cover your family’s needs.”

“Maybe. I’ll think about it. Can we go find Eppie now?”

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  1. Sadly, most of my generation won't be able to retire until well beyond standard retirement age. Between the economy, debt as part of the lifestyle, and longevity, making the pittance stretch from 65 to a greater life span beyond isn't likely to happen. And Social Security will continue to borrow from itself until someone has to pay. So, I don't expect to retire. But if retirement is writing, then I count myself fortunate to be doing something I love.

  2. I long to retire. I put money aside religiously for the event as I do not believe the social security system - in whatever country - will be able to cope properly when the aging population of the western worlds. As for loneliness, you can choose to be or not.