We have often told ourselves that if our sons ever came to us and told us they were taking a job because it had “good benefits” that we would smack them upside the head.
We don’t want them to think of life that way – the Pensioner’s Mentality, we call it.
It is when you take a job, or stick with one, because of the benefits or the pension. In other words, your desire for security trumps the gamble in you. You’d rather toil at a job that doesn’t excite you but guarantees your future, rather than take a chance at something that you will enjoy much more, but which promises no such safety net. Indeed, you may very well fail spectacularly.
We would extend this analysis too, to all those who worry about their retirement. They squirrel away money today and live in privation so that perhaps when they get old – if they get old – they will have some money to pay for their nursing home expenses. It’s a rather depressing idea.
We say you ought to live more in the present and enjoy more of what the now offers. That doesn’t mean you have to be foolish, but you should recognize the role chance has to play in life. You should recognize how little you control. You should realize just how much you are exposed to the whims of chance.
And in doing so, you come to quickly realize how pointless worrying about the future is, because you come to see how the very idea of finding security in this world is futile.
As Tom Hodgkinson put is in his Freedom Manifesto: “Security itself is phantasm. It doesn’t exist. It’s a construction of the mind, a will ‘o the wisp. Things are unpredictable… The real world is the one we live in, that chaotic, confused, insecure and wonderful place.”
Of course, thinking this way frees you up enormously. It lifts anxieties that are, when you stop to think about it, ridiculous to worry about. Why worry about retirement? Who knows what will happen?
Industry wants you to worry about retirement because they have a lot of stuff to sell you. We are bombarded with ads telling us how to achieve a secure future. But do not fall prey to their siren songs. Worrying about the future always struck us as very much anti-absurd behavior.
In fact, the idea of retirement itself is rather silly. Why should a man work for 30 years or so and then look to not-work for the last thirty years or so of his life? It is unnatural. Think about the idea of retirement with fresh eyes. It seems an odd thing.
What we suggest is to shift your perspective. Recognize first that nothing matters. Second, recognize that you have very little control over anything at all. And finally, live more in the moment. Drink good ales, eat good food, have great sex, read great books and celebrate with friends.
Drink and be merry, as old the saying goes, for tomorrow we die!