Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Age 62--Beginning of a New Era?

I have just turned 62.

Officially, I could, should I desire to, retire on my Social Security.

Funny how the very thought is comforting.

My job seems relatively safe. But should it suddenly and arbitrarily cease, I would have a guaranteed income. Never mind that the income would cover my mortgage and utilities but NOT my credit cards--at least I can count on it from this moment forward.

It feels like a weight has been lifted. I have no intention of retiring now but I like knowing that I can if I have to.

In a non-financial sense, now is also when I begin planning in earnest for my second adulthood. That's not my term; it belongs to Mary Catherine Bateson who writes about adults in retirement in "Composing a Further Life." Back in 1989, she wrote the best-seller "Composing a Life" about the stages of life women go through and how it was impacted by feminist thought in the '70s. Now she extends her discussion into the years after retirement (it's not an accident that she wrote this book at age 68 after retiring from years in academia) and includes men in the discussion. I thought the inclusion of both sexes was important because 'second adulthood' is a new phenomenen and neither men nor women have any template for the lives they are now creating and living.

For people between ages 55 and 80, most relatively healthy and used to being intellectually and physically active (well, for this couch potato, maybe less about the latter!), this is a whole new life phase, one for which there is no roadmap.

Many people that Bateson interviewed reverted to some long-forgotten interest that now moved into the forefront of their lives, and this time, that interest was unemcumbered by the need to make a living at it. One man started and nurtured a journal on race relations, deliberately keeping it away from university affiliation so that his writers could comment on academia without fear of repercussions or closure of the journal. Another who repaired boats his entire working life turned a gift for teaching others into a jewelry-crafting option in the desert.

For me, the most interesting part of the book was an examination of each persons life story, looking for the patterns--what decisions did people actively make for themselves; what decisions were made for them; where did they take charge and where did they allow life to happen, and, most importantly, how satisfied were they with course their life took.

I think it's time to take a look at my life narrative.

Knowing where I've been and both the whys and hows of getting there is a first step.

The big next step is figuring out where I want to go from here.


Karissa said...

Happy Birthday!

(and thanks for your email)

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to you! Cheers to your second adulthood :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday. You're leading the way for the rest of us.

Sharon said...

Happy happy birthday! Wow, I remember when you turned 60! How quickly time flies. So, it's interesting. You could live on social security alone? That is awesome, and I'm sure some peace of mind. Once your credit cards are paid in full, I imagine you can save like crazy until you are ready to retire. Then you'll have money to spare.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. And happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Grace. I like the idea of second adulthood.

Grace. said...

Yes, Sharon, I could. But it wouldn't be pretty! And a whole lotta credit card companies would be REALLY unhappy!

Donna Freedman said...

Happy birthday. I hope there was cake.
My friend Linda B., who's about to turn 67 and is the most kickass woman I know, says this: "You're only young once, but you can be immature the rest of your life."
That is my plan.

Living Almost Large said...

Happy birthday!

MasterPo said...

Happy B-Day.

IMO in this economy retirement would be foolish. If you can physically still work (and make more than min wage) do so.

It's going to be a bumpy ride. :-(

Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer said...

Hope you had a wonderful birthday.

Knowing you can withdraw that check if needed is the first taste of financial freedom.

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