Ray Ortali - Personal Retirement Story
When I decided to retire from SUNY Albany, I asked myself the following question: What shall I do that (a) fuels my passion (b) suits my personality, and (c) fills my pocket? I miserably failed with (c) but it's probably fair to say that I succeeded with (a) and (b).
My passion is interdisciplinarity. Everything is global. A discipline leads (or should lead) to another. Are primitive societies really different form modern societies? I asked the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, whose complete works (almost complete!) has just been published in the prestigious French collection La Pleiade. Is the world of cinema really different from the word of opera? Since retiring, I have studied, discussed and taught (that's the same thing) both subjects in various courses sponsored by the Emeritus Center. Is there a real difference between a novel and a poem? I have recently asked James Wood (How Fiction Works) and Octavio Paz (The Bow and the Lyre), and I might (might!) have a response soon.
Even if your passion is different from mine, let me make the following suggestions. First, be aware of the top ten reasons why people flunk retirement. Second, don't retire, rewire! Third, learn about the ten ingredients for a successful rewiring. And remember that rewiring might be the last chance you'll have to go for your dreams. Be curious (learn Chinese), be current (learn computers), be relevant (connect with your community), and above all be unique (what sets you apart?).
All these ideas are mine, of course, but they are also discussed at length in a terrific book I highly recommend to present and future Emeriti: Don't Retire, Rewire! 2nd edition, by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners, Penguin 2007. Free publicity for the authors-and happy retirement for all of us!
Ray Ortali is Program and Communications Director of U. Albany Emeritus Center.