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Not the retiring kind

There have been many times when I’ve thought, "This is not good". One was when we stopped referring to people as people and started calling them consumers. Another is when we began to call the older members of our society senior citizens.

I know this is supposed to be respectful but it always struck me as exactly the opposite. I have always felt that this is a way to sideline older people in a culture in which youth is the Holy Grail and age is considered a disadvantage.

In some cultures, older people are still valued for their wisdom and experience. In many cases, true mastery is thought to come only with many years of time on task. Some of the most respected names in woodworking were those of venerable makers who had spent a lifetime learning and perfecting their art, such as Sam Maloof, Jim Krenov, George Nakashima, Tage Frid and Toshio Odate. These were not men who retired at the age of 65. In fact, they all stated at various times, in one way or another, that they felt that they did not even hit their stride until that age.

When you think about it, spending a lifetime mastering whatever line of work you have chosen, only to abandon it at the very point when you have reached true mastery is sheer folly. Even if you slow down a bit and spend the remaining years passing your knowledge and skills on to the younger generations, it would seem to me, much more productive than spending the last third of your life clogging up freeways with bus-sized motor homes and overpopulating Florida.

And don't even get me started on senior retirement communities. If that is not hell, then hell does not exist!


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