I recently read an article Higher Ed inside Regarding the retirement of my colleague William G. Tierney, a nationally renowned scholar in higher education who has made significant contributions in this field. I was fascinated by his approach. He retired from the University of Southern California two years ago and shared with us the habits he developed over the years of his tenure that now support his successful retirement.
Based on his recommendations, some observers may say that I have failed miserably in retirement 101. My modus operandi is quite different.
Bill and I have one thing in common: our lack of interest in golf. I’ve never held a golf club in my hand, although I admit it can come in handy as a weapon. (I’ve never caught a bowling ball or a pickleball.)
Where we are most different, I think, is the result of our different ages. I guess Bill is in his late 60s or early 70s, which is responsible for his retirement options: meditation, fasting, memorizing poetry, exercising, experimenting and experimenting, and engaging in important social issues. My age will be 86 in August, so I am writing this article for my eighth year friends who want to consider retirement options that are more suitable for our age.
In the following section, I will comment on the retirement bill practice followed by my own. Here is what I will say about his habits:
Avoid meditation, mindfulness and fasting. Bill does all of this, and I’m sure those initiatives of Buddhist-like thought will help those who need to keep their minds pure and calm. But from my point of view, I think at the end of the day a perfect martini and a nicely roasted chicken from Costco meet the goal.
Memorization is not such a good option for many of us in our 80s and 90s. Like Bill, I also loved memorizing the necessary poems in my high school English class. My favorite was William Ernest Henley Invictus, Which I still often recite to myself. But lately, the last two lines I can remember are: “I own my destiny. I am the king in my kingdom. “If we accept this root of self-knowledge, we do not need more knowledge.
Exercise is not possible, either. Although I was an all-state basketball player at Florida State High School and received an offer of a basketball scholarship from Murray State in Kentucky, I was never a fan of exercise. In fact, my habit is to strictly avoid exercising in every form. At my wife’s request, I once joined a gym and rented a locker. But the first time I mounted an exercise bike, I was soon shattered by a mysterious flow of fluid from my body and was saved from danger by dropping and canceling my membership – a job I am sure saved my life.
Involvement in social issues is not for all of us. Like Bill, I understand the need for it, but I limit my efforts to voting and contributing to scholarships and other worthy causes in my case. I acknowledge the importance of “giving voice and authority to the young” in ensuring climate, racism, fascism, homelessness, gun violence and democracy. I donate, but if I really want to get involved, I need to be meditative, fast and aware to survive the insanity we have created in this world.
Experience and experimentation are no longer tempting. I’ve done this all my life and now I don’t need to learn a new language or visit an art museum to enjoy my leisure time. After visiting most of the forts on the Lower River a few decades ago, I began to agree with a philosopher in one of the tour groups who said, “If you’ve seen a castle, you’ve seen it all.”
A different perspective
So what is my personal approach to retirement now?
I am contributing to higher education. After 23 years as CEO, I officially retired from the League for Innovation on December 31, 1999; I was 63 years old. The next day, at the beginning of the new millennium, I continued my work as an educator and still do today. My work in education is so focused on my self-concept and my identity as a human being that I can’t even imagine giving it up for golf or even travel and world hiking.
For example, after retiring from the league, I explored ways to stay engaged in education. I consulted with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for two years; Has helped Walden University create a new doctoral program to prepare community college leaders; Educational examination service advice; Led a project on the nature of innovation for the MetLife Foundation; And I worked with Kansas State University to create a new community college leadership program with my best friend, John Ruche. I understand that not every retired person has this kind of option in retirement, but you can always find ways to continue doing some good work related to your profession.
I read, as I have done all my life. Here’s a pursuit post which Bill and I share. Reading is one of the most exciting and relaxing activities you can engage in. I read what I got from Fyodor Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams and others. I read all the long novels by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I ordered all his short works. I found a book among the best ways to travel.
I write. After 18 books and over 200 monographs, chapters and articles, I still find writing to be the focal point of my personal intellectual life. In the early years, I wrote to meet the requirements of being a full professor and then to be relevant in my case. I now write for my own pleasure, and to address the problems of the community college world I express my more provocative nature that other people are not addressing. In fact, since I am “retired”, I write more today than I have time in my professional life. In 2021, I wrote a book and 11 articles. This year, I have already written eight articles, including more grasshoppers
I am also a published poet. My work has been included The best poet of 2019, Who’s who American Poetry-2021 And The best poet of 2021. I have been writing poetry since I was a child and continue to do so for my own self-satisfaction. I share my work with family and friends, and I just enjoy creating a poem.
And I wrote my memoirs, Ambitious for poverty, For my family. I discovered that personal memoirs are unpublished unless you are a very famous person or have committed a major crime. Or maybe my memoirs aren’t very good. (But look at that title!)
I cook. For pure rest, cooking is an exercise in creativity, and a grateful visitor is always at hand. Food like books is another way to explore the world, and I’ve taken full advantage of it all my life. I won more than 40 ribbons for my pie and my creative cooking at the Orange County Fair and the International Date Festival প্রথম the most first place.
In short, with my work as a senior professor of practice at Kansas State University, with my reading, my writing and my cooking, I live a very happy life with my 40-year-old wife in Palm Springs, California, for which I am the sole caretaker. We don’t exercise or even walk and we don’t travel anymore because of Kovid. But if the weather allows, we enjoy breakfast in the outdoors. And we especially enjoy seeing our five children, 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren — all of whom hope for a new pie recipe when they arrive.