Why Retire?

By Berman, Eileen L. | Industrial Management, July/August 2007 | Go to article overview

Why Retire?


Berman, Eileen L., Industrial Management


Employees everywhere are concerned about their retirement. Having a plan for their eventual departure from their organization is of vital importance to them. While this is understandable, what is difficult for me to comprehend is that retirement from one's lifetime job (usually at the age of 65) is often accompanied with a desire to retire from life. I often see people in retirement who are not living with a sense of purpose or a mission to do something that will give them a feeling of vitality and involvement.

Three women who reject the Idea of retirement and continue to pursue their lifetime careers - much to the amazement of their fans and very possibly their friends and acquaintances - are Elaine Stritch, Barbara Cook, and Eartha Kitt. These three magnificent women, musical comedy stars who have been delighting audiences for approximately seven decades, continue to perform. They are all bordering on 80 years old (with one having already crossed the border) and are as fresh and alive as they were decades ago when they charmed audiences in their youth.

Impossible, you say? Not for these three remarkable women. To hear them in person is an indescribable treat. As you listen to them and watch them on stage, their artistry, energy, and enthusiasm sweep you away. You can't help but thrill at their ability to deliver. And the thought may well enter your mind: How in the world do they do it?

I have been a fan of all three for a good part of their careers. But I have found a renewed appreciation for their talent as they continue to work and entertain millions of fans everywhere.

Elaine Stritch holds sway at a supper club in Manhattan, a venue that is exceedingly demanding on the entertainer. The close proximity of the singer to her audience is challenging enough, but she also performs nightly and still remains vital and fresh. How does she do it? I have absolutely no idea as this gig would be demanding on a person much younger, but she has no apparent difficulty with it. Although she has admitted that it is far more difficult to hold forth in this kind of intimate environment than it is on a stage where there is a divide between audience and singer, she manages to hold the audience in the palm of her 82-year-old hand and keeps coming back for more. …

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