The life transition we call retirement mandates a major readjustment in how time, energy and money are spent, whether retirement means becoming a “snowbird” or having a stepped-down lifestyle. Work has structured the rhythm of life and time; most have found aspects of identity, status, and socialization at work, regardless of how fulfilling, arduous or well paid it may have been. Shakespeare’s King Lear and the Greek myth of Baucis and Philemon illustrate contrasting inner attitudes and their outcomes. Jung believed that the second half of life had a prospective and healing function in the psyche. If retirement can be considered redirection, these years hold promise: life can now be oriented to internal life and meaning, especially awareness of the ego’s secondary place in relation to the Self.
“I am in a McDonald’s, waiting for my younger sister to collect her meal. Her order is called and we pick it up, the meal is excessive – a huge portion of chips and lots of nuggets, so I steal a chip. As she is eating I look around; the McDonald’s is filthy and disgusting. There are graffitied yellow plastic chairs, dim lighting and a bare concrete floor covered in litter. It smells disgusting – like stale chip fat and smoke. People are smoking inside and everyone looks mean/dodgy/scary dirty. I do my best to avoid eye contact with them all. As we leave a smelly and dirty older man holds out the door and asks where I am sleeping tonight. I feel disgusted and rush away. As I turn a corner I am in a dark alleyway. My sister has gone. I check my pockets and my bus pass, phone and keys have also gone. I have no money or way to get home but I know I need to get to the bus stop to get away from this place. I glance over my shoulder and a hooded man is following me. I walk faster and then turn to look again, this time he starts running towards me. As he gets closer I realize he has no face. As he approaches me at fast pace his outstretched arm strikes me very hard in the throat. The pain felt so real I jolted awake – heart racing and panting.”
Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning, Beacon Press, 1959 (and subsequent editions). http://a.co/g0wAOJk