Chapter 6. Work May Always Be a Part of Your Life

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breathe were life.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Keeping Our Shine

When Tennyson wrote Ulysses, he took up the story of Ulysses where Homer left off. He is now an older man who finds that the home and the love he longed for while sojourning are not enough for contentment in these years. A life of idleness became a burden. Tennyson's story is a shining articulation of what can happen in traditional retirement. Retirement today puts people on society's back burner and tells them they should be happy to be there—but many are not. Many of those in retirement want to "shine in use." Tennyson's conclusion in poetry was also reached by Freud in science—that is, love and work are essentials in human life.

To many, work is a dirty word they want cleansed from their lives. At the outset of a new discussion around work, allow me to offer my own definition of what I mean when I use the word work—a meaningful and productive engagement, paid or unpaid. The focus is on doing something you find meaningful and that society finds productive. For such activities, we can collect either a material or an emotional paycheck—or both. Whether it be for pay or volunteer, we all need to know we can be useful.

As many baby boomers enter their late 50s and 60s and realize they may be able to retire, they will have to grapple with the decision of whether they will be happy doing ...

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