When I finally quit teaching at the school where I had been working, on and off, for about fifteen years, a few people asked if I was retiring. "Retiring?" I replied, shocked. "I'm far too young for that!"
As a child, retirement was something people did when they were tired of work and practically had one foot in the grave. It meant you were seriously old. You had finished with life. Early retirement was for the sick and pools winners.
Now, things have changed. A number of our friends have taken retirement, ready to potter at home and complete all those projects they've been contemplating for years. (Their partners would quite like them to get on and *do* said projects, but that's another matter.) Others have retired in the sense that they have given up paid work but now got on with life, walking the length of the River Thames or trying to visit every gin joint in London. None of them are what I would consider old - and I don't mean that in a biological sense, but more in a psychological sense. They don't have an old attitude.
Back at university, I was looking at the effect of personality on retirement; the conclusion I quickly came to was that if your job was everything in your life, then retiring was a disaster. You lost everything and waited to die. If, on the other hand, you had plenty of other interests in addition to going to work, then retirement would simply allow these other interests to expand to fill the time newly available.
It is all too clear that not everyone has what I would consider to be a good work-life balance, but perhaps now - or perhaps it's simply in this village - there is more opportunity to have other interests, helping people to keep that youthful attitude. Age, more than ever, is a state of mind and retirement is something that appeals once financial commitments have diminished.
I certainly wonder now how on earth I held down a full-time job, I am so busy with other things. Though I still haven't retired. I'm just doing different things, some of which earn me some money.
Speaking of which, have you got your tickets yet for the BCOS production of Chess? Friday is already sold out.... More info here.