I hate the word “retired.” Ditto “retirement.”
“How are you enjoying retirement?” friends ask me, not understanding that I am busier than ever reinventing myself.
So, today I checked the dictionary to see if my repulsion is justified by the word’s meaning.
Yes, indeed! According to the American Heritage Dictionary, retire means “1) To withdraw, as for rest or seclusion; 2) To go to bed; 3).To withdraw from one’s occupation, business or office; stop working. 4) To fall back or retreat, as from battle” and so on.
More interestingly – and in step with how the boomers are redefining a step-back from career -- the dictionary goes on to give some background on the word retire.
“Despite the upbeat books written about retiring and the fact that it is a well-earned time of relaxation from the daily rigors of work, many people do not find it a particularly pleasant prospect. Perhaps the etymology of retire may hint at why. The ultimate source of our word is the Old French word retirer, made up of the prefix re -- , meaning in this case 'back' and the verb tirer, 'to draw,' together meaning 'to take back or withdraw.'…It is not until 1667 that we find the word used to mean ‘to withdraw from a position for more leisure.' "
Tirer, the dictionary goes on to say, “ultimately may be from the Old French martir, 'a martyr,' probably reflecting the fact that martyrs had to endure the torture of being stretched up to and beyond the point of dislocating their bones.”
Well, my job was never a bone-pulling event,. I loved it! though my husband sometimes complained about the dislocation of our family when I came home late.
So, a plethora of phrases are now being invented to describe ‘unretirement,” including “encore careers,” “third age careers, and “second adulthood.”
Similarly, new organizations are seeking to harness this explosion of people with energy and (supposedly) time, including Coming of Age, and Civic Ventures, which runs Encore Careers which, amazingly, links you to “encore fellowships.”
The fellowships link people at the “end of their midlife careers with social-purpose organizations.”
Hey, I like that. I’m just winding up my “midlife career” and embarking on the next…..