I was eleven years old when I first realized that the word recreation was rooted in the word and concept of creation. At that age, my grammar school became the Recreation Center where I spent my summers playing caroms in the southern California heat. Before that revelation, I thought words were just things to be memorized. I liked it when I learned that I could take words apart and study their origins, history, and associations.
The Negative Associations of Retirement
The word retirement has a litany of negative associations: withdraw from use, retreat, go away, recede, avoid decisive combat, become unwanted, put away, fall back. Who would aspire to achieve the status of being unwanted? We all could use a new way to think about retirement, and I was happy when I remembered my revelation about recreation so many years ago.
The Positive Associations of Recreation
Recreation has several positive associations: to form anew, to reform in the mind, to renew, to enliven, to give fresh life. All of the stages of life are about re-creation, when you stop to think about it. When babies cut their teeth, they recreate themselves: now they can take a bite out of the world. When they finally learn to walk, they begin relishing their independence.
I enjoyed this past Fourth of July with my two-and-a-half year-old grandnephew, Denny. At one point he was hungrily chomping on a chicken quesadilla poolside, when he suddenly jumped up, threw it down, and shouted, “It is time to go!” as he took off running. It is a good thing his father was a former state champion track star!
When our granddaughter Sofia proudly announced to us that she was diaper-free as she approached age four, she began to recreate new opportunities for herself. She can now qualify for the Kub Koral at Lair of the Bear Family Camp, and play all day long, if she wants to, with her diaper-free comrades.
The Recreation of Reggie Jackson
Thanks to my association with the Ann Martin Center in Oakland (which promotes healthy emotional development and effective learning skills of at-risk youth), I spent Memorial Day watching the Oakland A’s play the Yankees from Reggie Jackson’s luxury box, which he donated for the day as a fundraiser for the center. The $600 ticket price included cushy seats in a warm suite with plenty of food and drink, and the privilege of hanging out with Reggie for the afternoon.
I had heard Reggie speak at a business seminar several years ago and was impressed with his business acumen and knowledge of the complexities of high-level finance. Unlike many professional athletes who lose their money within three years of retirement, or lose their way via other means, this is a man who has grown into an extremely admirable person and business professional.
The Process of Keeping Young
Reggie has kept his association (and source of income) with baseball by recreating himself as a mentor, coach and confidant to young ballplayers in the Yankee organization. He comes alongside players who are in a slump and talks them through it. He keeps himself young with his world-class car collection (and business), and clearly recalls when, in his early teens, he was in love with the Chevrolet 409 and never thought he’d have the money to buy one. Now, not only is he in a position to fulfill his childhood dreams and maintain his involvement in baseball, he also helps lots of people and causes, and loves doing it.
Recreation is for the Living
More and more we are helping our clients recreate themselves as they develop through the decades – a lawyer becomes a consultant and educator, a nurse starts a children’s choir and becomes a chorus master, a business owner becomes a business ambassador. Retirement is for the unwanted. Recreation is for the living.