A Pensioner’s Dream
I am learning what it means to be on pension and yet I don’t want to learn, because I don’t think there is much to learn; rather there are a lot of foolish ideas of what it should be like. Here I will take one example that certainly is emulated by numerous pensioners in the West, i.e. those who have money to travel. It is an example given by Gamla Liv, a life insurance company also dealing with pensions. The message is simple and many of us have not paid heed to it in time: if you start saving up for your pension early you could in fact live a very good life as pensioner. The story that is told by Gamla Liv sounds innocent enough but it angers me. It is about how a couple on pension now can travel the world and have the real good life. As the husband states: “during the last ten years I reckon that we have been away traveling for at least two of those years. It is fun to see new cultures and milieus”. It reminds me of a Swedish couple on pension who visited South Africa many years ago. We took them around, even into townships. The husband said: “you must know that we are interested in one thing, odd street names. During winter in Sweden I show slides to our friends and we have a jolly good time together”.
I find this example offensive. But the pensioners themselves are setting the scene. They portray themselves almost like idiots, less knowledgeable and not really able to take a serious discussion any longer. I reject that kind of view. You may suffer from dementia, become senile or be affected by various sicknesses before you know it; but as long as you can, you should be a normal human being with some sense of responsibility and involvement in society. It is so sound that more people are sticking to their professions and do work, even if it is to a limited degree. It is so sound and good for everybody. We are aging but the only way to stamp out ageism, which is growing in Europe and elsewhere where there are many aged, is to stop talking about being on pension and rather live a normal life of various kinds of involvements. This will also be achieved when older people are able to mix with those who are younger, and not just with your grandchildren.
This discouraging example leads me to the following recommendation to you who have reached 65 years of age or something similar and also to myself: if you travel, do that with a purpose, not just in order to “look” at things, continue to work, at least part time, if you want to and can, become a mentor for the younger generation, involve yourself in voluntary organizations, the church etc, not just for and with others your age, but with others, with issues and tasks that concern you, engage yourself in issues of justice, peace and reconciliation, or anything else where you may be able to help and make others a little happier, and spend time with your grand children if you have such, or engage with other children of friends. Spend time with the children, not only as nannies or care takers, but rather as adults that have something important to give the child, be it a story, an insight, or a skill. If you are a believer, spend a lot of time praying for others, for that will make you feel good. Pray for others, think well of others, write to others (my father wrote more than 80 Christmas letters a year still when he was over 80 years of age), spend time on meditation and even contemplation; in short do what is important to you and that could make a difference to others. It has got next to nothing to do with age, but with living a mature life, thanking God for the incredible goodness that this God has bestowed on us over the years.