The Prologue from the opening page of On Retirements.

Prologue, or Perhaps Epilogue, and Perhaps Both

To browse in proper bookstores (such few as remain today) is to be met with a growing number of books about retirement, the majority of which are primarily devoted to “powerful strategies” for assuring that one’s “wealth” is up to the task of supporting a “lifestyle” that may be more appropriate for people and societies that do not age.

Retirement, however, is much more than a financial challenge and much more than simply a new “lifestyle.” Retirement involves the personal and psychological work of moving beyond work: It includes all the work of aging, and sooner or later it includes the work of dying. Books necessarily have significant limitations in helping one to achieve this new variety of personal work, particularly books that simply equate retirement with income management. “Wealth” plays only a peripheral part in facilitating the work of the retiree, “work” that often may best be undertaken playfully and without cost. Because such work is so individual, and because it changes so much from month to month, no book touching on the psychology of retirement can do much more than encourage you along your own path and offer you certain hints about where your next good idea might be found.

As this book reveals, I have found many such encouragements in encounters with my friends, in various works of fiction and non-fiction, and in some of the landscapes through which I have passed and on which I have settled. I suspect that many other retirees, particularly those who happen to notice their own eyes scanning this particular sentence, are likely to find some of the same encouragements in many of these same places. I hope so. I hope, too, that some of those places may come to include a few to be found between the covers of this book.