Retirement plans

Most of us were raised with the idea that we would retire when we reached a certain age. When I was young, I looked at retired people who were as old as I am now and they never looked happy. I ended up thinking that retirement was not all it was cracked up to be.

Many cultures have had a much more reverential attitude toward their elders. They were not put out to pasture but sought out for their wisdom and experience. Their role in the society was to educate the younger members and pass along their valuable knowledge and skills. This would keep a person active until the day they were ready to move on.

I decided at a very young age that I would not retire. Ideally, the difference between my retirement and the preceding most of my life would be that I could make whatever I felt like making. There was a saying in the Old West that a guy died with his boots on. That’s for me. I’ll leave the porch and the rocking chair for someone else.

I don’t think I could be happy without being able to make things. My wife calls me kinetic. Some of our Spanish speaking friends put it another way: muy nervioso. I’ve never been able to sit still. I’m sure I won many a game of chess because I drove my opponent to distraction by constantly jumping up and pacing around. I’m still like that. The hardest thing for me is to rest. Five minutes of sitting and I’m up and out to the shop or off to the grocery store or just pacing around in the backyard. My brain does not seem to work if my body is not moving.

I’ve got more to say about this but I’ll save it for next time.



  • John says:

    Well David, now that I’m retired I can echo the words of a friend who retired before I did. He said: “now that I’m retired I don’t know how I ever found time to work!” That phrase stuck in my head so when I retired in 2008 after teaching shop for 31 years I simply changed course. I’d always done custom furniture and other projects while I taught but now I can do it full time. If it’s too hot in the shop or too cold I’ll do something different. Like you, can’t imagine life without creating, building, designing something. The difference is that now it’s on my time schedule — you know how long it took me to being able to go to the bathroom without having to wait for the bell to “allow” me to go? Only problem is the economy retired right around the time that I did but I still manage to keep myself occupied and able to afford my wood addiction.

  • David:
    The new definition of retirement is leaving behind all the things you “Have-to-do” and pursuing the things you “Want-to-do”! If you go back and look at why retirement became something we accepted as normal in the first place was because back in 1937 our government in an effort to make room for younger workers initiated the Social Security retirement benefit program. They publicly promoted that when a man reaches 65 it is time to move over and let the younger man take over! So today we view older people as being used up and of no value! Prior to 1937 we held the masters of trades or business or whatever in high regard because they were a valuable source of education and contributed greatly to the success of the up and coming young people.

    For better or worse today many employees no longer can count on pensions and many among us don’t plan on much if any Social Security as a back up plan and I think over the coming years we may just see a resurgence of respect for older workers. If for no other reason than the fact that many will be working longer because they have too!

    As a 30 year veteran of the custom furniture trade my retirement plan is pretty simple. I will continue to work till the day I die if at all possible, but I will only work for people who I like and respect and they in turn will like and respect me. Seems like a perfect plan, now if will only work!


  • I’ve desided that I’m not going to retire, but spend all my retirment money on the business to keep it going. Thanks for the wisdom.


  • Steve says:

    I too also must be making something.

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