July 9, 2018

What if Your Retirement Life Was Reviewed Like a Movie?


What if our satisfying retirement was like a movie review? Others watched your life unfold and gave you two thumbs up, or down. Rotten Tomatoes gave you a 65 or 95 or .....45% approval rating. You were open to constant retirement advice.

Actually, in a sense, this happens everyday. You are on stage, in all sorts of public settings where others are observing you: the coffee shop, grocery store, auto repair shop, or drug store. OK, in most cases people are not "reviewing" you. Actually, most of the time, they are so focused on themselves they are ignoring you.

But, if we can imagine for just a few moments, what would a "person reviewer" say about your life after retirement? Let's take a few of the normal ways a critic judges a movie and apply it to our life.

Originalityin a movie it is usually important that there be something original about the plot or the characters. The director has found some different way to tell a familiar story that the audience finds memorable. Sure, there are sequels that work well, but even they need a fresh twist on the original story.

A retired life well lived is very similar. If we try to copy someone else, live someone else's life, or just follow the standard path even if it doesn't suit us, we will miss what being truly alive is all about. Each one of us has a unique set of skills, gifts, and personality. Our lives must reflect that to be truly alive.

Character Development: I am sure we have all seen movies where the characters never come alive. Either the words they speak are wooden and unnatural, or the plot never forces them to change. The movie is no more than a still photo repeated for two hours.

One definition of character I found says it is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. As we age, we change. We gather life experiences. It would be unusual for someone to be exactly the same at 20 or 30 as he is at 60 or 70. Life has its effect on us, both for good and bad.  And, like a well-written movie script, we deepen and grow because of what happens. The key question becomes whether your character is developing in a way that represents the core of who you are. 

Musical Score: Music and sound can really enhance a movie. In some cases a certain musical presentation is what is most memorable. If I mention the movie, Jaws, don't you think of that sound when the great white is getting closer to the swimmer? Or, how about the theme from Star Wars? For many of us those notes are filled with memories.

Most of our lives aren't quite as dramatic as those two examples. But, think of a musical score as that part of your life that enhances the main story. Maybe it is a beautiful smile that lights up a room. It could be you are always there when a friend needs help or comfort. You can tell a joke at just the right time to defuse a tense or uncomfortable situation. These attributes aren't all your life is about, but they certainly add color and meaning to your life story.


Comparison to others in the same genre: Movie critics will often compare a particular type of movie to one that came before. Romantic dramas may be compared to Casablanca. A new tough-guy male actor has the performances of Clint Eastwood or Sylvester Stallone lurking in the shadows. A jilted fiancee might be seen through a comparison to Meg Ryan in French Kiss.  While sometimes unfair, it is inevitable that a new movie will have to compete with the past.

In human terms, we are always being compared to others. What type of career did we have, how big is our home, what do we drive? Our consumer-driven economy is based on creating desires for things we don't have. However, a satisfying retirement is very often built around a rejection of that mindset. As we mature and realize what really makes us happy, things we buy or possess often retreat into the background. Experiences, contentment, a more simplified lifestyle, or stronger relationships with others become the "things" we care more about.

Ultimately, we may see a movie even if a critic give it two thumbs down. Personally, I tend to disagree with the "experts" most of the time. Movies that score poorly I like while blockbusters often leave me cold.

Should I (or you) care what type of "review" others may give my life? No, not really. I am confident enough in my own decisions and self awareness to not worry too much about a less than blockbuster review. Importantly, though, I try to listen whenever an opinion or suggestion is offered.

Improvement in all areas of my life is my goal. I may not agree with it, but I will take retirement advice from all sources and then decide. I must be open enough to a script suggestion or a new way to enhance the music score that enriches my life. 

Lights - camera - action! 


18 comments:

  1. One thing I have learned over time is that other people think about you far less than you think they do, in fact other people barely notice you (if they notice you at all). Your family and those that love you are an entirely different story -- they think and worry about you regularly and those are the opinions you should really pay attention to.

    When we are working we believe that we are constantly being noticed and evaluated by others and formal annual performance evaluations reinforce that opinion. The reality is that for almost all of us 6 months after you leave work, whether through retirement or layoff, there's only a handful of people that remember you EVER worked there. After a couple of years probably only 1 or 2. And work is a place where you probably spent more waking hours than you did at home for years, possibly decades.

    What is true at work is true in life. Star in your own movie, make your own music but to worry about how others will review it (outside of those who truly care about you) is unimportant.

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    1. So true. There is a large part of the U.S. (and probably Canadian) economy that plays on the belief that others are constantly looking at and evaluating us. Otherwise, cosmetics, plastic surgery, and most of the fashion industry would not gross hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

      The only true evaluation can come from those who love us and know us.

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    2. Truer words were never spoken. Perhaps no time in history has the population been more self obsessed. And yet as we age most of us are lucky if ONE person is left who cares about our day to day welfare.

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    3. If anyone has any doubts about the self-absorbed nature of today, watch how many people spend all their public time staring at their smartphone, or with earbuds in. I would guess it is close to 80%, if not higher.

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  2. I can't really think of a movie that would describe my life but, I can think of 2 songs that might. The first 18 years would be, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, and the from there it would be, "You're My Best Friend" by Queen.
    b

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    1. Excellent choices. Thank you for not choosing anything from the Cowsills or 1910 Fruitgum Company

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  3. I just attended the funerals of my cousin who is 3 months younger than me and my 45 year old nephew the week before. Both services had slide shows with these men from the time they were infants until their passing. My nephew dealt with a brain tumor from the time he was 8 years old and my cousin who I rode bike with, rode the school bus and shared a classroom with was given a week to live because cancer had filled his body. Every day since these services I leave my doorstep being grateful for my health, my job, and my energy. I don't think Anthony Bordain or Kate Spade had the courage of my relatives who didn't have their resources to fight all the health battles my relatives did. My nephew used to look like the smallest boy on Eight Is Enough, with an engaging personality to boot. - Their lives are movies I play in my head each morning to encourage me to make the most of my days that they are able to have anymore. - plynjyn

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    1. Those are sad stories, but you have made then an encouragement to you to live each day to the fullest. Good for you.

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  4. Without question, the movie "Stand By Me" could have been a chronicle of my childhood.... ALL of the characters in that movie were in my life. It was filmed within 50 miles of where I write this, so is special for that reason as well. Like the character in the film, I had one of my best childhood friends stabbed to death while breaking up a fight at age 26. Both the beginning and the ending scenes in that movie still make me tear up. I still think of my friend often, and realize that my childhood was an important influence on my retirement priorities in many ways.

    The other movie I relate to is "The Razor's Edge," and both the 1946 version with Tyron Power and Gene Tierney and the Bill Murray version filmed 40 years later have things I can relate to. I can see a lot of the main character, Larry Darrell in me and my life and my persistent lack of conformity.

    I relate to these movies for all of the reasons that you mention, and more. They are hints about the common human experiences that people have, and the recurring themes we see in our lives and the lives of others over time. We all face similar challenges and experiences in life. It is our reaction and response to those things that differ and define who we are.

    So much of retirement (particularly as I get older) is about perspective, reflection and remembering. Movies help me do that, and some are perfect metaphors for my life and retirement journey.

    Thanks for the topic

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. I have seen "Stand By Me" a few times but will never watch it again in the same way, Rick. Thank you for the personal insight.

      I don't think I have seen the 1946 version of The Razor's Edge but will take a look for it.

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    2. Rick: Watched 1946 Razor's Edge on Amazon Prime last night. Well done.

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    3. Hi Bob and all, You should find the movie :Defending your Life" Starring Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks. Many life lessons if you look deeper. Thanks, Bruce

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    4. One of my favorites, Bruce.

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  5. In a discussion about psychedelics (!), one metaphor offered was that, post-experience, you stop seeing yourself as the star of your stage play (which we almost always do) and start seeing yourself as the director or playwright sitting in the theater and realizing that you can give your character different dialog, plot line, relationships, and even personality. Life is much more "staged" than we typically realize and therefore far more changeable and plastic than we believe...

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    1. Interesting....I think that is very apropos, changing one's perspective from performer to director. Part of that shift is exemplified by a mentoring relationship with someone younger. But, to your point, we realize we can almost shape-shift ourselves as we gain experience to be a different "character" at different times of life.

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  6. At a bare minimum, I'm hoping my retirement movie doesn't go straight to DVD and end up languishing in a discount bin at the local hardware store.

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