On the 5th April Marc Freedman (Civic Ventures founder and CEO) published The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife. I have yet to get a copy but I’ve scanned through a few of the abstracts; it’s looks to be great.

The Big Shift is an impassioned call to accept the decades opening up between midlife and anything approximating old age
for what they really are – a new stage of life, an encore phase that constitutes something entirely new.

One of the observations Marc makes is…… “There’s also a question of identity. What’s the category for people like me? There are a growing number of us who can be classified as neither-nors. Neither young nor old. Neither retirees nor of traditional parenting age. ……….Yet we were all unsure of the path from what’s past to what’s next. We lacked a language even to talk about this change, which felt for many simultaneously self-indulgent and imperative.

I am reflecting upon what am I? (Again) and the term retired!

I know that I have been frustrated in recent years by being asked what am I? i.e. what are my circumstances with regard to society’s view of economic activity…..basically “am I in full or part time employment?  or….. Retired……..

Retired!… The term seems so final …….that’s it…….finished……removed from the game…..given up….the Thesaurus offers some other similar references for retire….. “Withdraw, go away, give up, leave, turn in, call it a day!

Why is it that at a certain age if you are not employed (full or part time)….then you are not “part of the system”?

What about other situations? Other terms that reflect circumstances and capture hope and dreams…such as actors & musicians often are “between jobs”, in transition, “well I’m an actress but just waitressing for now”…..”I’m studying”…….”I’m a student”…..(does that only apply for young people?)

As Marc argues in The Big Shift we need new words to reflect a period after mid life and before old age and…..maybe we need to capture a new dreamtime…..as first nation Australians devised? How might we encourage ourselves to dream new expectations for this new vista of time that we are fortunate to look forward to and discard the term retired………How about reflecting…….or reconfigurating? …..re-gearing? Or perhaps Reposing?

“In a dream you are never eighty” – Anne Sexton

 At all other stages of life we are subconsciously moulded by role models of what’s expected, what we expect, society, our parents and peers expect of us at/by certain ages.

 Let’s acknowledge and celebrate this new territory by charting new language. What expectations & dreams purposeful exploration and development might  we realistically look forward to for ourselves in our 60/70/80s?

 What might we achieve and be….How do we learn to dream of being 80?

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