Freud in a Thoughtful Mood

Although a hard worker, Sigmund Freud is renowned for his psychoanalytical thoughts on human sexuality. He has articulated that love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.  That love can move, mold and motivate is indisputable. Mythological goddesses proudly proclaim the power of love.  Its all-encompassing power is incessantly extolled in art, music and literature.  Most people are familiar with the Greek Goddess of Love – Aphrodite. But does anyone know of the Greek God of toil?  And yet we are told work conspired with love to define the contours of our destinies. Instead of work, most are preoccupied with leisure time – vacations. At worst, we spend our productive years planning retirement.  

But working is an integral part of living. To work is to live and to be in harmony with Nature. To be idle is to be out of synchrony with nature, says Khalil Gibran. Work engagement is not mindless drudgery. It brings purpose and meaning to life – a sense of self-worth. It fulfills that innate desire to be an achiever and a contributing member of society. On the contrary, retirement is a precursor of old age, death, disease and disability. The London-based Institute of Economic Affairs has concluded that clinical depression increases by about 40% post-retirement because it deletes social networks and the very purpose of living.

More frighteningly, however, is that retirement has a macabre relationship with death. The phenomenon is called Early Retirement Death.  Accordingly, people retiring at age 55 are 89% more likely to die within 10 years post-retirement than those retiring at 65. This disproportionate number of deaths occurring soon after retirement suggests that death occurs when there is nothing worth living for and life when there is something worth dying for. 

When 106-year old Virginia McLaurin, who holds a full-time job as volunteer, was asked during her visit to the White House, what was the secret to her dancing at age 106,  her spontaneous reply was: Just keep movin.  It seems that life mimics the principle of a standing gyroscope: once action ceases, life simply collapses.  Excerpted from The Eloquence of Effort.