Living beyond the clock is a call to action to embrace a life unbounded by age or societal expectations.
Retirement is a concept as old as time but as young as the society we’ve built around it. Ancient cultures had no word for it. Our elders, wise and weathered, stayed close to home, passing on life lessons and traditions.
The word “retire” comes from the French “retirer,” meaning “to withdraw.” First used in English in the 16th century, it initially described pulling troops back from battle. Over time, the meaning broadened to include withdrawing from any active working life.
In the late 19th century, people in Germany laid the groundwork with a state pension system. Following their lead, people in the United States launched Social Security in 1935. Together, we crafted a story: reach a certain age and you step into leisure. Yet, we have to ask, why sideline our dreams until a calendar date? And why endure a soul-draining job, marking days on a calendar, as we await an exit pass from a crumbling system?
Take work, for instance. In many professions, you become truly effective after decades on the job. It’s not just about skills; it’s about relationships, trust, understanding nuances, and contributing valuable wisdom. Yet, the clock ticks, and society nudges you toward an exit sign labeled “Retirement.” This makes sense if your work is taxing on your body, but what if your most valuable asset is your experience?
Consider how long we’re living nowadays. The old rationale for retirement crumbles when you realize that many are mentally and physically vibrant for decades after leaving the workforce. What if an hour of your work today can generate immense value? And what if that value isn’t tied to your age but your unique perspective?
Let’s look at politics—a realm yearning for fresh eyes and fearless hearts. We need people unburdened by the way things used to be to step into healthy paradigms. Agility complements the wisdom of generations, forming a potent mix that truly fuels change.
Living Beyond the Clock: Making Every Year Count
And what about the personal side? Think of an 84-year-old family member finding solace in work after losing a grandchild. Age doesn’t dictate his worth or his need to contribute. He’s not just old; he’s a human being with a complex range of emotions and a desire for purpose. I know so many people in their 70s and 80s who are blazing new paths with no need to retire.
We’re on the cusp of change. Let’s not cower before the future. Let’s embrace it. Imagine a world where age doesn’t clip your wings. Where young people aren’t sidelined for lack of experience and older individuals aren’t relegated to the corners of society.
Recently, someone I met pressed me for my age. I first said I’m eternally 27. Not satisfied, they kept pushing, so I threw out 96. Their frustration puzzled me. Why did it matter? To me, age is secondary to the splendor each of us brings to life. Everything changes when we realize our real job is how we react and what we bring into the world, not fitting into someone else’s narrative.
So here’s the opportunity: Let’s demolish the idea that life comes with an expiration date for usefulness. Let’s build systems that value everyone, not just the young and not just the seasoned. In each of us lies a potential that knows no age. In this unfolding world, let’s not just count the years; let’s make every year count. We have the power to question, imagine and create what we need.
We’re all architects of humanity, weaving together the tapestry of our collective experience. Living beyond the clock means we value wisdom at every stage, and see each other for our contributions, not the years on our ID. We’re all capable of creating, learning, and contributing, no matter where the clock’s hands point. The future, as are these precious moments, is in our hands. And there is so much work to be done to create a healthy whole reality.
PS I just read an article about an 88 year old woman becoming a digital nomad.