Updated: Jul 27
Retirement. Many of us look forward to that time when we’re too old to do anything useful as a chance to do all that stuff we wished we would have done when we were young and capable of doing it in the first place. “When I retire, I’m going to drive cross country and see the country.” “When I retire, I’m going to go on that cruise I always wanted to.” “When I retire <insert thing you should be doing right now>.” The only problem is that many of us never get to take this end of life vacation we keep dreaming of. In fact, many of us will end up having to work some crap job all the way until we drop dead, never really having had the chance (due to our misinformed choices) to actually live.
If any of you are familiar with Warhammer 40k, then you may have heard that the Orks are the true winners in the universe. Sure, maybe they won’t conquer the universe or be lords of all in the end, but they are doing what they love- fighting epic wars. They get to do what they love each and every day, even if only amongst themselves. The idea of stopping because they have reached a certain age doesn’t even compute. Living to a ripe old age only matters if they get to fight something. Deprive them of the fight, and they will make a fight with something. They understand what matters to them, and they go forth and do it with a zeal that can’t be matched by any other race within the entire fictional universe.
To them, the idea of retirement is the real enemy. We need to be more like the Orks, and abolish this line of thinking if we’re ever to make it anywhere.
This is not to say that having the goal of retirement makes you a moron. I’m not hating on the people who have this as the ideal in their heads- I’m simply positing that the idea of retirement is a bad one for most people. We shouldn’t just find a job to pay the bills. We should strive to find what truly makes us happy, and get others to pay us for doing it. If you are only ok with where you’re at- you’re doing it wrong. Maybe that means you need specific skills which could require time invested in a college environment. Maybe that means that you just need to stop thinking about “making it big” and go drive that garbage truck you’ve always dreamed of owning, or pumping that septic tank (I’m looking at you Winston Rothschild). Find what you love, and pursue it with a zeal the Orks would be proud of. Note- if you love killing and violence, perhaps you should join the Infantry- it’s healthy, respected, and you can stay in it for up to 20+ years before they kick you out if you do it right.
The more I ponder this, the more I am lead away from being an employee and toward being either a business owner or owning my job, and I have made a pledge to myself that my employer (whoever they are) will never get an hour of overtime if I can help it as I pursue that end. I won’t bitch about not getting overtime, because being home with my wife and kids is far more important to me than another $30-$120, and moving my own goals forward is far more important than moving the goals of someone else forward (when they are my employer that is…).
Those who do what they love, because they love it, on their own terms and get paid to do so are the most fortunate people in the world. They are the ones who are truly rich, even if they make only enough to get by (or suck crap out of a hole). Even if they have to do those things until they die, they are still winning. Without realizing it, they have adopted the mannerisms of the Orks- they have found the true secret to being a happy worker. For some, that means a good job working for someone else. For others, that means working for themselves, and for still others, that means creating jobs for someone else. In all examples, it doesn’t mean going with the flow, and doing what is normal- it means doing what you choose for the reasons that make you happy.
Doing what we love is truly amoral. There is no more honor is working for someone else than there is in working for yourself. An employee is no less valuable and no more important than the person they work for or vice versa. Each is important. Each has value. But that value is directly correlated to what they want. If an employer hates what they do, and wishes they could be an employee- perhaps that’s the correct path for them. If an employee wishes they could own and operate their own septic and sewage sucking business- maybe they should stop talking about it and go DO it.
We get one life, and one life only. The best years, and the best time is now. Not tomorrow. Not that magical day at 65 when you get to “retire” and go on your end of life vacation. It’s today. Work for yourself, doing what you love, and from the moment you start until the moment you stop breathing, you’ll never work again.
In closing- be like the Orks (or Winston Rothschild). Do what you love, even if others think you’re nuts. I guess in this regard, I have to give those starving artists some grudging respect. Even if I do think what they’re about is kinda nuts…