It is disheartening to see the current presidential landscape. Both the Republican and Democratic front runners are senior citizens. As a fellow senior citizen, I am disappointed.
In negotiating this thing called retirement, one of the hardest adjustments for me was giving up power. Working gave me a financial reward, a social incentive, and, often, a major ego boost. As an executive and a board president, I found that frankly, just my showing up in a room was cause for celebration. People listened to me, some admired me, but all respected me. I’ll admit, it was intoxicating. But throughout this time, I tried to remember that it was the position that was being respected and not necessarily the person.
Retirement, on the other hand, has proven to be a difficult adjustment, probably because it was unexpected and unplanned. (I retired to care for my late husband.) I had enjoyed my career; I couldn’t envision not having one.
I remember Bill Clinton’s lament after leaving office that his phone had stopped ringing. Retirement offers no harried schedule, no one to meet, no business trip to travel to, no conference to attend, no speech to give, no one to manage my daily activities and, no one to boss around.
In retirement, our worth is not measured by a salary or adulation. It is measured by our ability to appreciate all that we have been given.
I believe it is critical that we retire and relinquish power to the next generation; to take time to reflect, to savor the things that we never had time to enjoy. It is an opportunity to appreciate life, relationships and cherish them before they are taken away.
More importantly, it is our duty to give the next generation a chance to determine the world that they will live in. They, not us, will live in a world with climate change, population growth, declining fossil fuel reserves and scarcer water resources. They will fund social security and Medicare. They will suffer the consequences of civil and women’s rights being chipped away. And they will have to shoulder the burden of the rapidly accelerating national debt.
Our generation has the wealth, the connections, the privileges and the resources to remain in power. But it is nobler for us to give this up, to let the next generation govern.
It is time to check our egos, step down and let the next generation determine its own fate.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.