International Writers Magazine:On Retirement
wants to Retire? Not me
is a dirty word. It means the end of a working life, the down turn
on the usefulness marketing cycle, a reduction in economic power
or, what is even worse the breakdown in self esteem. The world no
longer needs you!
The majority of
humans in the civilised and developed world retire at 65. That is the
age most state pension funds kick in and the poor sod that is now out
of work is faced with a monthly check that will hopefully keep his belly
full and pay for the roof over his head until he falls off his
perch as an old friend described the final day of reckoning. The
journey embarked during the golden years as many pensioners
describe life during the remainder of the days can take
many routes; from hobbies to golf, from travel to politics, from television
addicts to a life of sheer armchair boredom. As age creeps on, each
individual will find his own sector of misery or bliss to idle the time
away until the undertaker places him in his wooden jacket and the pastor
blesses his remains as they catapult into oblivion.
But not all human beings can boast a lifetime of activity that is on
the upslope of that hypothetical marketing curve. There are hundreds
of individuals in differing professions that are burnt out at a very
early stage. They can reach the height of fame and fortune as early
as their teens, hit the peak during their mid thirties or, if theyre
lucky, physically re-cycle their bank account for another two or three
decades. Lets take each case in turn.
An Olympic gymnast or ice-skater is doomed on reaching her or his mid
twenties. The long hours and monthly training that could result in the
final pinnacle of success standing on the highest podium of centre stage
to receive that long awaited gold medal is over in a flash! The sprinting
and throwing athlete, competing in the same venue is not much better
off whilst the long distance runner can stretch the time barrier a few
years longer. Not much income can be derived from here on yet there
are some sports that are extremely lucrative and can offer early retirement
and a life luxury the moment the competing individual turns thirty-five.
David Beckham, the English football idol come quasi-film star is a classic
example. The guy had barely turned 30 when his top level achievements
reached a peak, his physical carcass began to suffer and he was relegated,
with all due respects to the USA, to playing in a lower level football
league. Ah! But David made sure that football was not his only worldly
accomplishment. He is also a glamorous front page idol of male beauty.
His gorgeous looks plus clever financial investments have paved the
way for him to continue as a model for many of the most
important fashion firms in the world. Who knows, the Hollywood studios
could be his next step into further fame in a different field. Football
is not the only sport that can offer multi-million retirement packages
at an early age. How about Formula 1 car racing?
Michael Schumacher, born January 1969, winner of 7 world championships
plus another 70 firsts, retired at 37 as the best racing driver of all
times. He outstripped Juan Manuel Fangio (retired at 47) as the worlds
Nš 1 driver. He no longer hits the front page of the sports magazines,
nor does he attract German fans to the ongoing races on television,
but I bet he is basking in the sun on some forgotten island paradise
counting his millions achieved over a mere 15 years of brilliant driving,
when not advising Ferrai. Hes left the door open for the younger
generation. Welcome Lewis Hamilton; already a potential champion and
hes only 23! There are however, other professions that can cause
heartburn or heartbreak; depending on the popularity charts!
Gary Cooper was 51 years old when he hit the peak of his acting career
as Marshal Will Kane in the Oscar winning film High Noon.
His female opposite was an upstart called Grace Kelly, barely 23. Considered
one of his best achievements, the age difference between male and female
roles highlighted the fact that Gary was at the end of the lifespan
of a film star in a leading romantic role. Take a year or two, this
adds up to about 20 years; A farewell to arms in 1932 was
his real screen debut. John Wayne was another typical old timer that
fit the mould. Although he had already played many Western cowboy roles
it wasnt until he hit fame as outlaw Ringo in Stagecoach
back in 1939 that John was considered a screen male idol.
Exactly 20 years later he starred opposite Angie Dickinson, 25 years
his younger as Marshal J.T. Chance in another Western box office success,
Rio Bravo. From then on he was on the downward slope although
he kept his fame thanks to his fans who always considered him the Duke
of tinsel town. The film industry continues to produce both male and
female idols that can hold sex appeal image for a limited period so
long as the make up team and the face-lifter architects
can repair the fading frames to fit the cameras.
Then weve got politicians!
Now this is a profession that has no age limit regarding retirement.
In fact, it is more often a hobby for a great deal of human beings after
they have completed a lifetime of activity in whatever other profession
they had entered in the first place. It doesnt matter what part
of the world youre looking at, what political party governs the
country, or what religion dominates the landscape, the panorama of power
can be in the hands of members of humanity of all ages that can dominate
the political scenery for decades or drop out within minutes. Adolf
Hitler snuffed it at 45. He didnt make it because he blew his
brains out just before the arrival of the 7th Cavalry. Fidel Castro
landed from Sierra Madre in 1959 at the age of 33 and threw out Cubas
1st dictator, Fulgencio Batista who then retired to Spain at age 58.
Fidel only recently relegated his leadership to his brother Raul who
is pushing 80. Nearly 50 years in the driving seat. Both brothers are
way past receiving their retirement package. How about the runners of
the upcoming US presidential election? OK, so Americas democracy
can allow a two term office totalling 8 years yet the age disparity
can be incredible. We all know that John F. Kennedy was only 42 whilst
Ronald Reagan kicked off at 70 after retiring some time
earlier from a film star career, yet take a look at todays contestants.
Barack Obama is 42, Hillary Clinton is 50 and John McCain is about to
turn 72! A 30 year span between them! The latter first retired after
a brilliant career in the Navy only to turn to politics as his new born
Finally we have the clerics.
Most monks, nuns, ayatollahs, mullahs, soothsayers, witchdoctors or
simple fathers turn their work into a lifetime vocation.
They are in it from start to finish. Once committed to God, the lifespan
is a race to the bitter end. They can however, mix religion with other
hobbies. You have good examples with the Northern Ireland Reverend Ian
Paisley, who kept Downing Street busy for decades, or Reverend Desmond
Tutu who became famous for his fight against Apartheid in South Africa
as the countrys outspoken Archbishop of Cape town. Both were considered
more as political figures rather than members of their religious faiths.
Irans Ayatollah Khomeini is probably the most notorious figure
of all as he combined both politics and religious authoritarianism in
equal dollops of power.
It is obvious that the above examples are contrary to the norm as few
of us mortals can achieve fame through sport, acting, politics or the
church. However, we should rejoice in whatever financial support we
have on retirement as part of our humdrum lifespan. It will always be
better than most of the worlds population who still live in abominable
poverty and cannot afford a normal standard of living let alone a retirement
© James G. Skinner. June 2008.
of Destruction, my friend
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