Let’s talk about those golden years that we’ve all been told to plan for since we were first old enough to put a few dollars aside for our futures. This notion of doing something right now because it’s going to turn out to have been a good idea later didn’t start when we got our first paid job. No way. It had been going on for forever from our perspective.

 

I don’t know when it started for you, but for me, I think it was probably when I was first told to wash my hands or brush my teeth. You know about all that stuff. Pick up your toys and put them away so you’ll know where they are the next time you want to play. Make your bed so it’ll be already straightened up when you’re ready for bed. Learn to read so you can go to college when you’re older. It just went on and on, with no end in sight. Do this or that today for the sake of a better tomorrow.

 

Most of that do it today because tomorrow you’ll be glad you did coaching we got turned out to be generally good advice. The cumulation of habits, skills and all that stuff we now know serve us fairly well. Thanks for all of that encouragement and insistance.

 

But back to those golden years. I certainly have no issue with doing what we can to prepare for the day when we no longer have a job that pays the bills and lets us order a pizza now and then. We still need money, golden years or not. The same goes for staying as healthy as we can and trying not to alienate our friends and family. We still need it all, job or no job, work and responsibilities or not. Those kind of things are what they are, and we still need them, whatever our age.

 

It’s the golden part of golden years that I’m having some confusion about. Sure, we’re talking about old age, but just calling it what it is seems to be too uncomfortable for many and probably most people. It’s not that you are old and getting older, you have merely transitioned into your golden years. Presumably you’ve been looking forward to the transition for years and have finally made it. It is the icing on the cake that is your successful life.

 

But just when do those golden years start? This mostly seems to be relative. If you retire from a job and don’t start a new full-time job, you are in your golden years, unless you retired before most people retire. It’s fuzzy, but you get the idea. A good rule of thumb that works most of the time is that if you are at least 60 years old and do not have an active, go to work income, you are probably in your golden years.

 

Of course, another much simpler way of saying it is if you are old and don’t work anymore, you are in your golden years. Here, work only counts if you are getting paid for working. It really is boiling down. Golden years are for those of us who are old and not getting paid for anything we are doing today.

 

Not doing anything productive that produces personal income or justifies others supporting you and your activities is generally seen as being lazy or parasitic. That is unless you also happen to be old and self-supporting. In that event, you are golden or at least in your golden years.

 

Here’s the fact. All of us are going to get old, if we survive the first sixty years or so, and some of us are already there, since we got a head start. Just as all that glitters is not gold, all that is gold does not glitter. If the golden years imply an upgrade from the pre-gold years, I suspect that most of us who are already old are still waiting on our upgrades.

 

Along with not having to get up early and go to work every week day, we no longer have the opportunity to get up and go to work every work day. Along with no longer having to deal with all of those demands, expectations and interruptions, there are no more demands, expectations and interruptions. Along with the weekend no longer being a break from the busy week, there isn’t the busy week any more. Along with there no longer being too many things to do, places to go and people to see, there is very little that has to be done, no where you have to go and no one you have to see or who has to see you.

 

At first, the golden years are like an extended vacation, but one day you realize that there is nothing you have to go back to, nothing you get to go back to. It’s like going on the perfect cruise; but once you get on board, you discover that it’s not as satisfying as you had expected but you still have to stay for the duration.

 

I’m okay with being old and getting older, but please don’t refer to me and the golden years in the same sentence. For some old people, it may be an upgrade. If so, I am glad I didn’t have to live their lives. But for me and many other old people, I suspect that growing old is what it is, but golden is not a term we would use to describe it.

 

I suspect that it’s true that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl; but all play and no work runs the risk of making Jack and Jill a couple of dull old people, definitely not golden.