June 24, 2011

Solstice

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The Summer Solstice passed last week and The New York Times reported in “Celebration, and Mourning, on a Day with Lingering Sunlight” that we are divided in how we see this moment. Some of us rejoice in the onset of summer. Others are mourning the shortening of days.

For those of us who have reached our own solstice, the day when we realize that our time on earth is likely to be shorter than the days we have lived, there is a similar divided response. Some of us focus on retirement, others look to reinvention. Investment advisors and the financial press warn that retirement at 65 may not be viable for many. There are proposals in Congress seeking to cut Social Security in an effort to reduce the national debt. A recent article in AARP details our concerns over retirement.

“Respondents were split fairly evenly between those who said they “can’t wait” to retire (43 percent) and those who said they “won’t want” to stop working when they hit retirement age (41 percent).

But in sum, an overwhelming majority (81 percent) of boomers said that after retirement they expect to do at least some work, whether out of need for the money or for interest and enjoyment.”

In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article “Your Future: Two Lifetimes in One” Deepak Chopra surveys the spiritual implications of our increased life expectancy:

“What do you expect your second lifetime to be? Can you envision a rising arc of expectations after you turn fifty? That’s the challenge facing each of us as well as society as a whole… There’s only so much juice you can extract from getting and spending, working and consuming, entertaining yourself and socializing with others.”

How our culture looks to the second half of life is at a tipping point. The question is not about the glass being half empty, or half full, but more about with what and who we fill it. The recent death of Clarence Clemons illustrates this shift. He drank up life until his end. Here he is, alongside Lady Gaga in “The Edge of Glory,” four years past legal retirement, and more than twenty years since Springsteen first “retired” the E street band.

“Another shot before we kiss the other side…
I’m on the edge of something final we call life, tonight”

Comments (1)

  1. July 1, 2011
    John McIlwain said...

    Your post recalls to mind the wonderful comment of a very wise man (whose name I forget, as I forget most names now!) who said at the age of 85 that all the most important things he learned in life he learned after 75. So I guess its OK if I forget stuff now, being only a young 67; I just need to start paying attention when I hit 75!

    Keep up your wonderful blog.

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