In cricket, there are two innings in a test match. Similarly in life there are two innings. The first innings is when you pursue your education, then get into your career or vocation and reach the pinnacle of your life and career. Then the second innings begins. This is time you retire from work and settle down in life with your family. In the first innings, we try to take everything we can from society. In the second innings, it is time to give back.
Organisations in most countries determine the retirement age in advance and sign a contract with the employee. On the other hand, if you are practising a vocation or business, you decide on your own retirement age. In my view, it does not matter. All of us need to retire some day so that we can give way to the younger generation. If there are only eleven playing members in a soccer team, then the senior players need to retire so that young potential players will get a chance. Life is not different.
It is better to retire and quit, when people ask “why are you leaving? “, rather than “why are you not leaving?”. There is a time and place for everything in life. It is important for all of us to prepare ourselves for every phase of life. I know of many people who are so busy with their work that they do not have the time for their family, vacations or even for planning for their own future. They live and die at work every day as if there is no tomorrow.
We all need to realize that life has two innings. In the first, you learn and take from society and in the second, we share and give back to society in all ways we can. We need to plan for the second innings in life. There can be no prescription for anyone or anything in life. However, I have seen people who plan everything meticulously and are looking forward to their retirement so that they can give back. On the other hand, there are others who think that there is no life without work and hence dread the thought of the second innings.
One always wonders what would one do when you retire from life. This is a fair question. While you are working you believe you never have the time to pursue your hobbies. You also tend to think that you are so busy that you cannot pursue an exercise regimen every day as your routine. After all work and no exercise, you wonder where is the time for your spouse or your kids. You have not visited your friends or relatives for ages on the pretext of being a work-a-horse.
Now as soon as you are about to retire the same questions haunt you. You start wondering that you will have all the time in the world and have no work to do. You need not exercise now although you have the time since it is no more relevant for your future. Your kids have left home and your relatives and friends do not have the time to host you now. This may be harsh reality of the future. However one needs to plan for it.
The first myth is that work is within the precincts of an organization in a defined role. The second myth is that maintaining good health is an option. The third myth is that your family, friends and relatives will wait for you for the rest of their lives. The day we break these myths in our minds we will make a difference to our lives and to the lives of our near and dear.
My father in law in the photo above was a good example of meticulous planning and preparation for his second innings. He pursued his hobbies of reading, writing and serving the community around him in all possible ways.
Work beyond retirement could be pursuing hobbies, social service, teaching students, reading, writing, travelling or any other way of giving back to society. Maintaining good health is a life long regimen and does not end with retirement. Our indebtedness to family and friends is a life long expression of gratitude.
Let us begin today.
S Ramesh Shankar