Everyone active in his younger years dreamed of retirement. You hanker for a laid back life, free from the hustle and bustle of the city, away from the madding crowd, relieved of the stress and tension in the workplace. Retirement conjures an image of fishing and cavorting at the beach, enjoying the beauty of the sunset, do some little gardening and doing a myriad of things that you failed to do during your active life in the corporate world.
But a lot of people never fulfilled their dreams of retirement. That includes me. I promised my wife when I retired from the corporate world that I’d slow down to be able to smell the flowers. We are now in the so-called ‘back nine’ of our years but still continue to be active in our professional lives. We are the 60, 70 or 80-somethings that you can find in PCCI, ECOP, MAP, MBC, PMAP, and other business or professional organizations.
We are the ‘unretireds.’ We may no longer enjoy the perks of senior executives that we used to enjoy, the handsome cash incentives that we used to receive but we still ‘work’ as consultants, retainers, lecturers, lending our talents, expertise and experience to the younger people.
We are all members of the OPAL group (old people with active lifestyle). To us, retirement is terribly boring and isolating. It’s like sitting on a rocking chair waiting for the Grim Reaper to come. Working after retiring is good not only for the cash flow but also keeping the mind and spirit sharp.
The ‘unretireds’ like us should draw inspiration from the Hollywood icon Bob Hope, who was still active in movies and golf in his 80s. One should never forget the irreverent George Burns who, before his death at 100, was still enjoying life and cracking jokes at parties with Frank Sinatra and his ‘clan.’ George Burns once quipped: “You can’t help getting old, but you don’t have to grow old.”
The whole world is teeming with people who refused to retire. Even our popular President Duterte is already 71 but he hit the ground running right after taking his oath of office. And most of the members of his cabinet are either sexagenarians or septuagenarians. Who says the world is only for the young?
Never say “amoy lupa” to the old because sometimes they could outlive the young. At the back of Christ the King church along Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon city is the house of retired SVD priests. There used to be a small chapel where there was always an exposed blessed sacrament. It was my favorite place to do my sacrament of penance and reconciliation (translation: confession) because the retired priests could hardly hear my sins. (That’s a half joke) There was a jolly old priest in his 90s who was smart and spritely despite his advanced age. When a young parishioner departed with the words, “Hope and pray to see you again, next year, Father,” the old priest would reply in his feeble but naughty voice: “Why, are you not feeling well?”
Well, some, if not all of us ‘unretireds’ may have our maintenance pills, dye our hair, have heart disease, hypertension, wrinkles, age-related loss of muscle and bone and onset of senior moments, hearing or sight impairment or suffering from ED but we are still active in business, professional, religious and social activities. Whatever placebo effect of these anti-aging drugs that we, the unretireds, are taking, they seemed to have boosted our life expectancy.
For the young readers, please don’t misunderstand us. We are not like the proverbial Faustus bargaining with the devil to cheat death. We are neither like the Greek myth of Tithonus, who was granted eternal life but not everlasting youth and wound up miserably withered forever. I think it was George Bush who said that “the desire to prolong youthfulness is an expression of a childish and narcissistic wish incompatible with devotion to posterity.” Maybe, he is right. Extending our lives would wreck havoc to our Medicare and Social Security systems.
But have you heard of Barbara Walters engaged in her glamorous chat about Hollywood celebrities and Larry King of CNN? They retired only at their very advanced age. In a sense, we are the Barbara Walters and Larry Kings of the business and professional world. We refused to retire. But we know that somehow, someday, sometime, the inexorable course of nature, would ask us to take a bow and bid goodbye to our earthly being and join God in His new Jerusalem.
But in the meantime, my wife has to wait for my promise of “being able to slow down and smell the flowers.”
Why, being active in ECOP and PMAP and in the lecture circuit is already an elixir of youth!
(The author is Chairman of Change Management International, Inc., a management consultancy firm. He is past president of PMAP, past president of Society of Fellows in Personnel Management. He is currently Vice-President of ECOP and Vice-President of ECOP Institute of Productivity and Competitiveness. He is a member of the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC), Tripartite Executive Committee (TEC), representing the employer sector. He is a Commissioner of the Tripartite Voluntary Arbitration Advisory Council (TVAAC). He is co-author of the revised book of the late Perfecto Sison now entitled: “Personnel Management in the 21st Century” and author of the book, “Human Resources Management – From the Practitioner’s Point of View.” His email address is: [email protected])