Saturday, September 14, 2013

Deck Chairs And Death

Though happy for her I think this change will kill her. The Service Deli manager announced today that she is retiring next month. Beyond that she sold her house and is moving from the high desert in California to Nashville, Tennessee. This is a woman whose pride is that she never missed a day of work and was only late once. She’s been in the business since high school. Her husband passed last year. I hope I’m wrong but the statistics bear me out.

According to an article in Freakonomics, early retirement is “bad for your health.” “The study showed that for every extra year of early retirement, workers lost about two months of life expectancy.”

I know that after my dad retired I watched him slowly decline. Though it can be argued that health issues played a large part I saw him lose joy in living. He gave up music and his beloved photography and simply sat around the house. Had he worked longer and not retired at 55 I think he would have remained more agile in spirit and thought life.

One can’t help but think of John Piper’s illustration from Don’t Waste Your Life. He tells the story of a retiree who walks up and down the beach in his Bermuda shorts throwing stranded star-fish back into the surf. His life isn’t invested in anything that matters. Having that investment can be life saving.

I can’t cite statistics but gut level it seems investing your life in a cause greater than you will keep you alive. One of the elders at our church says he’s busier now than he ever was when he was working. I suspect his vision for the church and the energy he expends will add years. It’s the retiring to the armchair or the deck chair on the beach that will kill you early.

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