Retirement - Parker Palmer

January 26, 2014

How do you plan for retirement?  Parker Palmer's first bit of advice: Don't fill up the space to dull the pain of giving up your career.  Parker talks with Jim Fleming about the challenges of forging a new identity once you're no longer working.

You can also listen the extended version of their conversation.



It was nice to hear about retirement referred to in the program as a pleasant change from a fulfilling career to a new life of interesting challenge and adventure.

There is another aspect, from my perspective, at least. In contrast to those of us for whom the previous 20 or 30 years of work have been good, there are those who have experienced pain and discomfort of a miserable job, from which retirement is a welcome respite.

What first comes to mind would be that of a factory worker who has performed dull, mindless, and boring task for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week.

Second, there are jobs that produce stress and burnout, such as human service workers; school teachers, police officers, social workers, and even medical doctors come to mind. Idealists enter these jobs at the beginning, with visions of making "the world" a better place by educating people, enforcing the law, helping families, and curing disease. Over time, each of these occupations succumb to "burn out." A teacher may take a job working in a bank, a police officer may become alcoholic, a social worker may become hard and cynical, and a doctor may start driving a truck.

I was a public assistance social worker for 20 years, and retired at the earliest opportunity from a final assignment with family and children's services on the child abuse hotline, from which I quickly understood that not many abused children were not being saved by the system. Had I not reached retirement in time to leave that system, I sincerely believe that I'd have ended up drunk, drug addicted, or dead. Fortunately none was the case, for me.

I hear you. Coming from a public service mind set-the other aspect of this is-I tried so hard, how did "it" get worse? You are not your real self when you leave this kind of career-I still get so angry at the abuses...but, after 6 months of "retirement", there is a tiny light out in the distance!

I screamed into my radio when I heard Jim Fleming say he was retiring. No, ooh no, it can't be. I will miss you so much Jim. You have been the voice of calm and wisdom on the radio for so long & TTBOOK has been my favorite show. It is a completely selfish response and I know we must let you go and have a different adventure now. Thank you for all you have given to public radio Jim. Happy travels & enjoy that grandson. Namaste. Karen Siegel