Nowadays, nobody asks me what I do, or did for a living. Nobody cares to know that.
Yet, that's who I am, always the teacher, observing and studying, then translating the results into bite=sized=pieces to be presented to someone, some group. I taught grades 6-14, upper elementary to junior college. I'm an expert without a platform.
As seniors, we are judged by the clubs and volunteer activities we are involved in. In our town, there are quilt groups, garden clubs, yoga and dancing groups, school tutors, reading groups, walking groups, bird watchers, trail blazers, environmentalists, council members, board members, canoers and kayakers, fisher people, surfers, painters, writers, jewelry makers, potters, metal-sculptors, gamblers and church members.
None of these activities require a degree or a certificate, or a recommendation. In some cases, you run for office and let the community know you want their support. Otherwise, come in, sit down, learn with everyone else. What you did in your previous life doesn't matter at all. Go on, join up, pay your dues and swing-to-maloo, or whatever tune the group moves to.
I miss not contributing to my field of studies. I miss young people, their energy, their needy situations that allowed me to help out. I miss solving problems, planning, collaborating to achieve a mutual goal. What I contribute in my elected position as a school board member is infinitesimally smaller than anything I ever did on a daily basis.
I should be happy not to have so many responsibilities. Not at all!
All seniors I know, would rather be contributing members of society. Their health, their energy and attention span levels, however, are not what they used to be. Part time employment, project that would take a few weeks, a few months, paced differently, these would be great ways to employ seniors.
Retirement for most people is a forced choice.
If you ask us, we'll tell you about our work, we'll show you.
But, we are not being asked. All that we could pass on as mentors, all those resources are wasted away.
We need a smoother way to start working, and a smoother way to stop working. In our early years, we need time to learn incrementally, and apply few lessons at a time, with the help of a mentor until we can handle a full time load on our own.
In our late years, we can mentor young people, help them see the elements in a work day that can be leveraged carefully to help all other elements work well. Our time with youth would help us ease out of full time work, and would help the corporation utilize the skills we have for a few more years.
There should be a decade of easing in and one of easing out.
Work should be geared to our life needs; not, the other way around.