Being Half Retired All Your Life

Food for Thought

We did Dim Sum the morning after Dan retired. Another friend of mine recently retired too. It’s a weird feeling. Retirement in my head has always been in the distant future; something I’ve heard about but not connected to my reality. I wouldn’t be happy if I weren’t a productive member of society. Anything creative I do with my free time finds inspiration in working life. I don’t think I would be able to write much if I weren’t fully engaged in the real world. Doing business is a great way to interact with people of all ages, races, cultures, religions, etc.. The only type of people I don’t interact with is retired people. If they don’t have children, they would only be exposed to other retired people who are going to die one by one.

Chris told me about this idea of always being half retired which is catching on among some young people. Instead of saving all the retiring to the end, you half retire while you are still young. It makes sense because retirement would be more enjoyable while you are still healthy and able to do anything.

It’s a cliché for retired people to travel around the world but I never understood the appeal. It’s essentially like checking out what you missed in the rest of the world, all the possibilities you didn’t explore in your youth, what you could have done in your life, including being able to explore on your feet all day long without worrying about arthritic pain.

Some years ago, an article titled “Top Five Regrets of the Dying” went viral. Second on the list was “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” I think this is popular in Western societies because your life is supposed to get better progressively, culminating in the Last Judgment. (In the East, life is seen more as a cycle of ups and downs.) Towards the end of your life, if you are struggling and suffering, it’s seen as the consequence of what you have done wrong in your life. Furthermore, there is this idea of “delayed gratification” as a sign of intelligence. Either way, your concern is how other people judge you, which brings us to the top regret of the dying: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”