In the recent past employment I had, there was this officemate and close friend of mine, Celine (not her real name), whom I admire most – intelligent and iron-willed, a super achiever, a super hardworking mom, and quite financially secure at that. She rose from the ranks to becoming a supervisor, even also as she single-handedly supported all her four sons into finishing college. Even on my first few months at said employment, I already sensed that Celine was undeniably respected or a force to reckon with by well-meaning employees. And, yes, she was incredibly beautiful too.
On the queasy side, however, my heart somehow bled with commiseration for Celine. She confided to me that for the past 33 years or so in her job, she has had a terrible daily work schedule, leaving her barely 5 hours of sleep during workdays. She starts her regular work day by rising around 3:00 am, does her routine activities as mom, prepares for work and leaves at around 5:00 am (factor in the horrendous traffic and travel time) for her 7:00 am to 4:00 pm work. Goes back home after office and arrives home around 7:00 pm; again, does the routine house chores (plus monitoring and mentoring the kids) and sleeps at 10:00 pm, or even past that.
On the whole, I’d like to reckon, of her 19 waking hours, minus some three hours for the daily routine activities, Celine must have ceded 16 hours daily to her 7-4 job, and multiply that for the past 33 years.
Needless to say, she didn’t have any FREE TIME (that is, understood as “discretionary”) for herself, for her loved ones – during workdays for the past 33 years.
In effect, she must have ceded, by far, her entire working age, her energy, her discretionary free time, her health, her creativity, her life – to a corporation in exchange for a retirement money (nah, she’s hasn’t reached the mandated retirement age of 65 yet).
Of course, we cannot discount from her 33 years the damaging incremental effects of stress, anxiety, and workplace toxicities. I, myself, have witnessed – during my employment at said corporation – the glaring toxic work environment and personnel relationships. In capsule, the workplace is vastly littered with pretension (or plasticity), rifts, and apathy across all employees – kind of dog-eat-dog, combative atmosphere. And, notably so, Celine has survived all these.
But, on fair reckoning so, and as succinctly suggested by our title, do we really have to cede control of all our time, our entire working age, to our 8-5 job until the retirement age of 65?
What do we gain? And what have we lost then upon 65?
Of course, no question about it, we gain a secured amount of money for our remaining years after retirement. But is such ample amount enough to repay all the TIME lost – for ourselves; for our family; supposedly for our passion, creativity, or life purpose; and inevitably for God too – as well as the irreversible health effects of stress and other work-related maladies?
Remember, time is a relative but expendable commodity. While having or not having time is debatable, we all have the same 24 hours a day to spend. But, aside from time and more than the never-ending “working for money”, what is lost in the process are the inarguably priceless and meaningful “moments” we ought to have for ourselves (our passion or purpose), our loved ones, and God. And these “moments” are simply unrepeatable.
Sadly, by our retirement at 65, howbeit the amount of money we have earned – we’re already stressed out with our health and age to enjoy our remaining years.
Strikingly, contemporary research data show that those who continue to work right up to the maximum retirement age of 65 tend to have shorter retirement years than their peers who retire younger.
In an article, “Retire at 55 and live to 80; work until you’re 65 and die at 67,” by Alec Riddle (biznews.com), an actuarial study conducted on some of the larger US Pension Funds – including Boeing Aerospace, Ford Motor Company, and Bell Labs – indicates that employees who retired at the age of 65 died within two years of retirement. The same study also showed that those who retired earlier, say age 55, tend to enjoy their retirement on average for more than 25 years.
The study also concluded that hard working retirees at 65 are more likely putting too much STRESS on their ageing bodies and minds, and develop a variety of health problems, than those who retire earlier.
This study is quite revealing, huh.
Ask thee, again, are we yet wont on ceding control of our life, our precious times in life, to our job until 65?
We only have one and short life to live. Let’s spend it wisely, meaningfully, and happily for ourselves, our loved ones, and for God.
After all, at the end of life, what matters most is not how much we have earned, acquired or achieved, but how much we have loved (St. Teresa of Calcutta) and how happily we have lived a meaningful and purpose-ful life.
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