Is “retired” the end? Or what do you do?

Synonyms for the word retired like inactive, withdrawn, cloistered, unsociable, resigned, etc. In the background is an old rusty truck covered with vegetation.

We love our early retirement, and our reveling in the honeymoon period of our Endless Weekend. The only thing we regret is not starting it … earlier! But one only needs look at the word “retired” and its synonyms, on the photo to the right, and be filled with sadness… The definitions of the word “retired” are all so … depressing (definitions from wordnik.com/words/retired):

  • Withdrawn from one’s occupation, business, or office; having finished one’s active working life.
  • Withdrawn; secluded.
  • Secluded from society or from public notice; apart from public view.
  • No longer active in your work or profession

OUCH! Is that how society views the retired?

Many people have adopted their occupations to identify themselves by taking their last names to be their professions, even centuries ago:

A list of last names that originated in occupations like blacksmith -> Smith or pork butcher -> Kellogg (yes, you have Middle English to thank for that :)). Background photo is of a blacksmith making a horseshoe.
Not all are obvious like Smith. Some, like Kellogg, we have to go to Middle English to understand where they came from, as in surnames.behindthename.com.

When contestants are introduced on Jeopardy, it’s first by their jobs, then their location, and finally their names. And given our love for trivia, that is definitely an indicator 🙂

Are our jobs such a profound part of who we are that they identify us, so much so that when we’re retired we’re without identity? Without a purpose? Left in a secluded spot or put out to pasture like the rusty, old car in the first image? Finished one’s “usefulness”?!

NO WAY! It’s the best time to be had! When people ask us “what do you do” we have an answer that brings joy to our hearts…

What we want to do! in the background are some soap bubbles :)

Are you defined by your job? What will you want to do when you reach your Endless Weekend (I’m done calling it “retired” 🙂 )? What are you doing during your Endless Weekend?

Interesting trivia: who owns pigeon droppings in England? (Hint: it’s job-related 😉 )

Answer to last post’s trivia: SOS stands for … nothing. It was the Morse code for distress signal because it was easy to transmit: 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots. Save Our Souls is a nice coincidence, nothing else. Big gold star to Cindy Bruchman for her brilliant response.

23 thoughts on “Is “retired” the end? Or what do you do?

    1. I don’t like it, I LOVE this word, and the idea that what we refer to a# “retirement” is really “jubilation”! So much more fitting, and I wonder what it tells us about the cultural differences that brought about two such different outlooks on this joyous period! Thank you so much for bringing this up!

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    1. Thank you, John! It’s strange: I didn’t expect the transition period to be so full of surprises and unexpected revelations. And, yes, one of them is that a “decompression” period is needed (for both of us) from the regular job schedle to … the freedom of the Endless Weekend!

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  1. that is so odd to see all the negative connotations associated with the word retired. I’ve always viewed retirement as a highly rewarding time in one’s life, and you certainly have shown that to be the case. And I agree, Cindy’s response for SOS was brilliant. And I’ll just take a crazy guess on the pigeon droppings – a street cleaner?

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    1. That’s EXACTLY what surprised me as well: we are jubilant in our Endless Weekend, and yet we find that our society has so many negative connotations of the word. What does that say about our society that we are so defined by the jobs we hold?

      That’s a great guess! “Finders keepers” would dictate that it should be the street cleaner that gets to keep the pigeon droppings. But no such luck since King George I’s time …

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        1. You’re traveling to exotic lands in the Far East, experiencing new and delicious foods, AND yet you still find the time to ponder on the imponderable trivia of pigeons! That is nothing short of admirable!

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  2. While they may be accurate I am not defined by any job title. I am me, and as such have found that I’m the least affected by the idea of retirement, much less so than friends who can’t quite let go of saying who they used to be. Will they ever let go of those titles? Time will tell, but I sure hope so. Move on, kids. Move on.

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    1. First thing: I’m delighted that you’re back from your (long!) hiatus! Know that you were greatly missed — welcome back!!!

      As usual, you bring up excellent questions: what defines who we are? Our names? Our jobs? Our titles? Our family ties? Is our very essence defined by geneology and other people’s references to us? If that’s the case, it would seem like we’re abdicating responsibility for who we are. So I like the way George Bernard Shaw put it “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Let’s move forward, like you said, and create ourselves! In our case, in the Endless Weekend, with great jubilation 🙂

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  3. For a couple of months after I retired not having my job title seemed strange. I haven’t thought about it in a long time. I wouldn’t relate to any of those negative words, but if you changed ‘elderly’ to something like ‘aging’ well then you’ve labeled every human being alive. Because either you’re aging or you’re dead, and most of us choose aging every day of the week. 🙂

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    1. 100.00% agree with that: the alternative is a not a palatable one… from day one 🙂 One of my all time favorite quotes is Geroge Bernard Shaw’s “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” I don’t stop playing! And he also said that youth is wasted on the young… If there was only a way to reverse the stages of life, what do you think, would we be happier then?

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      1. I don’t think reversing the stages of life would make us happier. I do think a little wisdom wouldn’t have hurt me in my 20’s, and I sure could use a little more flexibility and stamina in my ‘mature’ years so I could do more things I want to do. 🙂

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    1. I was/am, too! It’s such a marvelous period of freedom that it makes one wonder what our culture is telling us about what’s good… and what isn’t. Do you think it’s always been this way? Is it a relatively new connotation? I know the “elder” used to be the revered advisor. Was the period of blissful freedom considered that or was it always “resigned”, “removed”, and “unsociable”.

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  4. When we read the statistics on how much time working stiffs spend directly, and indirectly, performing and thinking about their jobs, it’s no surprise that it becomes a huge part of us and our identities. We retired young, so our transition was not only being retired, but doing it at such a early age. And believe me, it took some adjustment. But, at the end of the day, it’s a fabulous problem to have.

    As for a name, not long ago we visited the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and of course, we bought the discounted senior-rate tickets. Written on the ticket was “Pensionista.” When pronounced with a good Spanish accent it’s such a romantic sounding word. So I’ll put my vote in for that. ~James

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    1. I like that! Now I’m humming to Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” …

      It must have been pensionistas, and it’s starting now.
      It must have been pensionistas, and I love it somehow 🙂

      At what age did you guys retire? What prompted it then?

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      1. We retired at 40. As you can imagine, it was a complex decision, and there were many factors. But, the biggest single catalyst was that we’d both reached a long-term career goal, and after a couple of years grinding away, we both said to ourselves: “Is this it?” Also, Terri had been doing lots of reading and thinking about downsizing and simplicity, and somehow everything just dovetailed at the right time. Of course, the actual transition took a few years, but we eventually got there and have never looked back. ~James

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