Last week in this space, we talked at length about how we earned our livings before retiring.
It was terrific opportunity for me to learn more about readers I've “known” here for many years along with now having a better sense of newer commenters.
Over the weekend I reread all those stories. As varied as they are, one thing many have in common is the long and winding road through various kinds of employment, some still continuing.
Another is the time and effort many women put into getting college degrees while marriages came and went and while raising children too. Ours is the first generation that went to college in large numbers and many of you worked against difficult odds to achieve those degrees, an effort I don't think is well appreciated.
But it is another kind of response I want us to consider today.
From Ruth-Ellen B. Joeres: “I feel vastly inexperienced when I read all of what you all have done.”
From Darlene: ”This is not the exciting career path that some of you experienced, but it was my rather mundane life.”
And Marcy Belson, who is a prolific contributor to The Elder Storytelling Place, emailed: "I've decided my life was quite boring and not worth writing about. I think I could sum it up in one short paragraph, 'Got lucky!'"
Inexperienced? Mundane? Boring? I don't think so. And that gives me an opportunity to reference a pertinent post from more than eight years ago.
It was titled (Extra)Ordinary Lives, and came about when a reader wrote to say she wouldn't be able to have a blog because her life had been so ordinary there was nothing to say about it. You can read the post here.
Which seems to be what the three quoted above are saying about their work lives. So I'll tell you (and any others who think you fit the category) what I said in that 2005 post: “There are no ordinary lives.”
It is a mistake to compare our lives to one another and anyway, I think old age is the great leveler. Here is why.
It doesn't matter if you were a rock star or a secretary, a bus driver or a captain of industry. After a certain age, your joints will probably ache, you will lose your hair or maybe your teeth, the diseases of age – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc. - are way too common at our age, not to mention the eventual visit from the grim reaper himself will catch up with all of us no matter what kind of career we had or if we had none at all.
Some of you may have thought your jobs were boring or mundane, and perhaps they really were, but that does not make you either of those things.
In the United States more than in European countries, we define ourselves by the jobs we hold during our working lives. Let's not carry that over into our old age.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson: Seven Steps