I was reading "A Satisfying Journey" about the wave theory of retirement. In the post the Bob Lowry said: "I just passed nineteen years of being away from the world of work. If there is one overriding lesson in the nearly two decades since June 2001, it is that this time of life is a series of waves, with both crests and troughs.
There are joyous periods when you feel so fully alive you wish for longer days. Your creativity is flowing, relationships feed your soul, and your health is not causing any problems worth mentioning, Your mind is full of good thoughts and new challenges.
Then, there are troughs. 2020 qualifies. Your world is rattled by things out of your control. You feel stagnant and unfulfilled, stale, and stuck in a rut. You are at a loss to see the best way forward. Then, just like the ocean, you are thrust upward onto the next crest of retirement. The bad stuff is behind you, and life is full.
Interesting perspective on retirement, I have now been retired for 14 years and have my own metaphor about retirement, which does not involve waves or troughs. I do however, like his idea of having a personal metaphor for retirement and life.
Metaphors are a figure of speech that makes an implicit, implied, or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated, but which share some common characteristics. Developing your own metaphor of life or retirement allows you to make sense of all of the contrary things that have occurred to you and how you handled them. Metaphors make sense of our lives but they can also be interpreted in many ways. They’re a reminder that we’re not alone in our feelings.
Who doesn’t recognize Forrest Gump’s famous line from the film? “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” What does it mean to you? Some say you should always expect the unexpected, but it could also mean that life is full of sweetness. Which slant do you put on this metaphor?
William Shakespeare said that the entire world is a stage and everyone else is “merely a player.” In this line of thinking, you have the ability to be anyone you want. Why not be someone great? However, this metaphor could also mean that you are not the writer of your own story or play and that you have no control. It could mean that you believe that your life has been scripted by a higher authority and you cannot change it. Which slant do you put on this metaphor?
Another metaphor I have heard is that life is sometimes like a game of chess. Those who live this metaphor say that you should always think about your next move, but understand that you can’t always anticipate the moves of other players. Another way to think about this metaphor is from an experienced chess player's perspective. I believe experienced chess players understand that you have to think at least four or five moves ahead and yes you can easily anticipate the moves of other players based on their previous moves. Which understanding do you have of the metaphor are you the inexperienced player that believes you cannot anticipate the moves of others or the experienced player that understands that you can anticipate the moves of others based on their previous moves?
There’s no guidebook to finding the meaning in life or the metaphors we use to describe our life. This is something that’s left for us to decide. Metaphors, I believe, help us piece together all the confusing bits, and create some balance in what it means to be alive. But as we consider our metaphor of life, I think we need to be clear when we define our metaphor for others or we may add to their confusion about who they understand us to be in our relationship with them.
Retirement gives us a unique opportunity before we retired we created a metaphor to explain our lives, but in retirement, we have the opportunity to re-invent ourselves and to create a new metaphor for our life. All of this talk about life might have you thinking about the future and in the far future we will not be here. So as you consider what your metaphor of life is I suggest you start your end-of-life planning to decide how you want to be remembered. Deciding what your metaphor of life will be is a good start. I also think your metaphor should guide the actions you take today.