The "Pleasures" of Retirement
ABUSINESS man informed me lately that he intends to retire in five years' time, " while I am still able to enjoy myself." Almost indignantly he demanded of me why he should continue to toil and moil until he was too old to get any pleasure out of ease and leisure.. "Look," he said, " at So-and-so ! " As So-and-so happened at that moment to be in New York, while I was in London, I was able to look at hint only in a figurative sense. "There he is working away, and too hard, although he has made a fortune and might long ago have retired." It- appeared that -So-and-so was beginning to show signs of age ; his face was sagging ; his hair was getting thin and grey ; he looked old ! I said that that was not unnatural since he was certainly -growing old, and I protested that for a man of his years he seemed to me, when I last saw him, to look very well. "No, he works too hard ! " my companion insisted ;- and, then: he started a.:dithyrambic account of the'delights with which he would -fill his life when, in five -years' 'time, he retired. from toiling and moiling. - He would do just what he felt like doing. He would thoroughly enjoy himself. Travel a bit. - Play golf-a bit. Live in France. Take long sea-trips." 'Enjoy himself. Not like So-and-so' . " I suppose," said I, " So-and-so gets- some pleasure out of his life. He would be unlikely to go on—what did you call it ?—toiling and moiling unless he enjoyed it ?
"Yes, I dare say he does enjoy it. But what a thing to enjoy ! "
. I ought to add that So-and-so is a very. eminent man, whose business has ramifications all over the civilized world. He travels extensively because of his work, and is constantly called into consultation with Cabinet Ministers in various countries. He is, I should say, one of the fifty most important men in the world.
"He has power, of course," my friend continued. "Don't you think that he greatly enjoys using it ? I asked him.
He nodded his head.. ".No doubt," he admitted. "But he ought to retire while he is still able to enjoy retirement, and not wait until he is too old and worn out for anything .but an armchair by the fire. - I've seen people work so hard that they had not time to think of anything else. They lived and ate and drank and slept for their work. They took no interest in anything else, rarely went to a theatre, never looked at a picture, seldom read a book, knew nothing of music, had puerile opinions on politics—and when they retired, as they had to in the end, they pined and died. Didn't know what to do with themselves. Couldn't even garden. Just bored themselves to death. Catch me dying like that !"
" Nevertheless," said I, " there's something to he said for So-and-so. My firmest belief, at which I've arrived after a variety of experiences, is that the greatest fun any man can have is work that he likes doing. So-and-so obviously enjoys every minute of his job. And who wouldn't enjoy it ! He has been in every important council of world-importance since the Armistice. He knows and is consulted by most of the Premiers of Europe, Ministers of Finance court his counsel. The welfare of nations is affected by him ! . . . 7) If I were to reveal his name to my readers, they would acknowledge that my language is not extravagant. So-and-so is in that position.
"His influence on the relationships between America and Europe is considerable and may be profound. He is one of the few men in the world of whom it can truly he said that he could make or stop a war. The League of Nations lives, to some extent, on the sufferance of such men as So-and-so. I dare say he sometimes feels tired and worn-out, and longs for the retirement to which you are going in five years' time, but I am certain he would be completely .miserable if he were -` out ' of all the things which he is now 'in.' I have known hint for some years now, and I can sincerely say that he gives me the impres- sion of being a happy man. The harder he is driven by his job the more fun he seems to get out of it. He likes doing what he does. 'He would be utterly unhappy if he were not doing it. I doubt if he looks forward to the day when he will retire. I ant confident that he dreads retirement ! . "
"That's my argument," my friend interrupted. "He won't know what to do with himself. He has 110 resources ! . . . "
"But he has," said I, interrupting in my turn. • "lie does all the things that you contemplate doing. He_ travels ! . . . " "On business ! "
." Nevertheless he travels, and-since he enjoys travelling on business what! difference does that make ? He plays golf, he plays tennis, he dances, he frequently goes to the theatre, nor does he plead that he is a T.B.M. as an excuse for seeing only trash ! .
"What's a T.B.M. ? "
"Don't you know that ? A Tired Business Man. The biggest 'fraud in the world ! He reads extensively and intelligently. He has as many friends among writers as he has among business men and politicians. In short, he has a variety of pursuits and pastimes -and leads a full, busy and extraordinarily interesting life. Why, merely writing his reminiscences will keep him absorbingly employed. 1 do not say that you are wrong to fix so much of your hope of happiness on that day, five years hence, when you will retire from business and devote your life to enjoyment and leisure, but I am certain that So-and-so is right to go on doing the work he likes,.doing as hard and as well as he can, for I do not know of any greater felicity for any human being than to be fully engaged in a job that please hini. Just as I dO not know any greater miseryfor a inan than to -spend his time in doing work that he dislikes. Better be a bobby on point duty, if you like being a bobby on point duty, than be Prime Minister of England if you do not like being Prime Minister of England. But it is wasteful and wicked to be either a Prime Minister or a policeman if you do not feel that being one or the other is the greatest fun in the world ! "
ST. JOHN EltVINE.