Friday, April 22, 2011


There is a strange guilt that hangs over my generation.
The guilt is to work at a paying job as long as humanly possible.
Men and women are to work.
Work and work and save and save.
Saving is not a bad thing
but there has to be some sort of goal.
Wasn't there a time,
like every time period before the industrial revolution,
that the work that was really sought
was to become a better person?

8 comments:

RAnn said...

I think the difference is that back in the day people worked to live, and when they quit working, death wasn't far away. The concept of retirement--a time at the end of your life when you didn't have to work, when you lived off the fruits of earlier labor--is a very recent concept. People lived with extended family and continued to work even though the younger generation may have shouldered most of the load.

Today retirement is an option, but especially among the educated, our work isn't just something we do to put food on the table, it is enjoyable and fulfilling in other ways. Most of us don't work with family so gradually phasing out isn't really an option--we are either working or not.

Janette said...

I don't really agree with you on the statement that "among the educated"... I know many,many educated people of my grandfather's age that chose to discontinue work around their mid fifties. I know many educated women who chose not to work outside the home well before that age. Most of those people lived well into their 80's.
My grandmother continued to work until her 70's because my grandfather had passed many years before. They had a family business before then (as did my family) and would have most likely- passed the majority of the work on to their son around their fifties (as my family did).
I do not have an extended family that farmed. Most were city (Phoenix,Baltimore and Chicago) people who were middle class or upper middle.
I believe that this generation has been guilted into believing that you need to work to be whole. I am exploring that myself. Most likely I will continue to "make money" but the idea of a daily work...not so sure that is all that natural or normal. It seems much more normal to be available to children and grandchildren. I am pretty sure that I am a bit ahead of you in age. I know my husband is. Maybe that is why I have reached this stage with more of a feeling of looking.

Retirement- as in people sitting around or simply traveling all of the time-I don't know anyone in my lifetime that fit that definition.

Anonymous said...

My Dad retired officially several years ago but he continues to "work" at what he wants to do. Fortunately for him, he can make money at it too. The thing that is gone is the constant drive to go, go, go and he is loving it. Granted, he IS a farmer, so there are certain seasons where he does have to have more GO than at others. I remember him saying about long neglected but needed jobs (like sorting through the shop) that is is amazing how much gets done if he just works at it a little while each day. He knows that just sitting around would be devastating to him and he is pursuing his passion. My Mom is counting down the days until she can do just that herself!

May you find what brings you fully alive in this season of life and then make a way to pursue it! With God's guidance I believe you will find joy there... :)

Christina

KathyA said...

1. I am beholden to you and touched greatly by your comments to my posting. Thank you.

2. I notice so very few people I talk to have plans. We work by 5 and 10-year plans and have done so throughout our 40 year marriage. And even though I retired from teaching in 2007, I continue to make goals. Maybe it's all that time spent doing lesson plans and stating 'behavioral objectives'!!

Elena said...

I think Ruth was pretty spot on. People worked to live. The trick was to be a good person while we work, and as part of our work - not to cheat or steal etc.

Taking care of children and grandchildren is and was also considered work!

Interestingly there is no word for retire or retirement in scripture.

Janette said...

1. The key words here are: " PAYING JOB".

Suzie Orman just blinged my idea on her show. A couple- both with good pensions- with more than a million in the bank was told they couldn't retire from their work until they were 70 because they simply did not have enough money.

I feel that more and more people feel more like Ruth- that you should stay in the workforce as long as possible. It gives purpose. It is what we are supposed to do- women and men.

I am surprised that you feel Ruth is spot on. El. That paid work is what we are called to do? That educated people see it as fulfilling? Paid work.

Heck, I cannot even keep up with the books Ruth writes about- no less her children and a demanding career. She seems to be able to do it all- and I know I cannot. I've tried- it does not fulfill me. She is so accomplished. I guess I am just trying to hang on.

I agree with you Kathy. We have made goals throughout our 30 year marriage. One goal was to be in a place that my husband could happily woodwork. We are here now. Since he started paid work at 14 - leaving full time work at 60 with a pension- it works for us. We are frugal and feel comfortable with the income we have (which is one of the lowest amounts of money we have ever lived on).

I am just a bit tired of feeling guilty for choosing not to be in a paid position. I felt the same guilt when I chose to stay home with our children until they were back in the States in middle school.

I call this stage retirement- but as I stated before I know no one who got to this stage that did not move into non paid work. Is there no word for that in scriptures? Oh yes- it is called following in footsteps instead of a paycheck.

Maybe, in 20 years, I will regret not making and saving more money. Somehow I doubt it. I don't regret being available to husband or my daughter and grand child or son or sister in law or mother any time of the day or night. It isn't a full time job in the least- but it is an important one. Now I have to find something that fills in the gaps. I am a TERRIBLE housekeeper:>)

LOL- I must feel guilty- I am here defending it. The best part of the defense is seeing in writing what I feel in my heart.

2. Kathy- I love your blog!

Elena said...

"I am surprised that you feel Ruth is spot on. El. That paid work is what we are called to do? That educated people see it as fulfilling? Paid work."

I think taking care of ourselves is part of what we are called to do. That may be paid work. It might be bartering. It might be couponing, or caring for the home while a spouse is the breadwinner, or it might be becoming totally self-independent. I think it can take a lot of different forms.

Kimberly said...

Just had to say that I am amazed that now my 7th and 8th grade English teacher and my online-Catholic-moms-friend read each other's blogs. Too cool!