We are all fishermen, equipping our boats with traps and lures, life jackets and survival kits, adding extra ice in those coolers we hope to fill with our catches, as we go on, day in and day out to fight for our survival, one bounty at a time, on most days when the weather is cooperating, and even on those days when most people would rather remain under blankets. We are wired to work; we are wired to support our families; we are wired to keep trying until we succeed.
Our working lives give us sustenance and identity.
Whether in an office or on an assembly line, at sea or on the ranch, our work has demands on our being, our full attention in the present and our full commitment for the future. We trudge through the worse days anticipating better days. We work and then, one day, we hope to take a rest, run into some extra cash to fulfill the dream of a bigger boat, a set of tools, all to make our work produce more income, more security for those days ahead we know we won't have enough strength to pull another load, to handle another complaint, to type another inquiry. There will be a time, you tell yourself, when all this will pay off; our lives will improve, and lady luck will smile broadly and long upon us.
Then, we are too old for work. Or, our boat brakes down; our equipment is too ancient; our energy level can't keep up anymore. It's time to retire. Time to enjoy the fruit of our labors. Or, sell what we have and move out of the rat race, identify the necessities and live without those trappings we have come to rely on.
When the end is near, we all think of ways to pare down. We might sell our house and buy a smaller condo, with no upkeep expenses. We try to sell our stuff too; or give it away as stuff will tie us down.
After all the dismantling, reality kicks in. What do I do with all my time? How do I live without the comforts I have enjoyed all these years? Will I miss my old work? Will I miss the grand kids? What happens if I become very ill? What happens if my money runs out?
We take a long time to prepare for work, decades. We take very little time to prepare for the decades that follow work, for the decades when our choices will be just as tough as the choices we had in our youth, yet the time to recuperate if we make bad choices is very short. Our health and social lives will change drastically; our partners, too, as we are then left to deal with life's circumstances on our own. If our families were close, there will be comfort. If we still can drive and travel, more comfort.
Mostly, the race to the end of life is a sad string of circumstances we have no idea how to handle, and very few resources left to address such needs.