Sunday, February 17, 2013


"Retired", oil, by Tom Brown
     I was wondering this morning why I’m making such a personal fuss about my retirement, when retirements are occurring constantly in countless numbers all across the earth.  If retirement refers to time after having stopped working, how many millions of things literally stop working every single second? The Audubon Society estimates that, in the United States alone, as many as 13 million birds die – stop working – each day, which comes to about 150 birds every second. That means that each second that I spend fussing about how I will spend my retirement years, 150 beautiful wings fold up for good. It’s estimated, too, that approximately 3,000 animals die – stop working – each second in slaughterhouses around the world, so while I’m furrowing my brows feeling sorry for myself for leaving my wonderful work as a teacher, thousands of chickens and cows are leaving the work of life unwillingly, and in pools of blood. And of course, how many of my fellow humans have to retire from life each day because death comes to the door? While I’m wondering if I should start a stamp collection or take sketching classes in retirement, two people per second are leaving loved ones forever.  It puts things in perspective for me, making my retirement from teaching seem like simply a tiny stop in a vast cosmos of endless stops – and, of course, just as endless starts.

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