After viewing the documentary, The Open Road, which evaluates different attitudes that several baby boomers have regarding retirement, two theories from the text that can be seen to apply are role theory, particularly in regard to Bob Levey, the Washington Post employee who strongly identifies with his contributions to the newspaper, as well as Judy Neff, who works at Home Depot; and continuity theory, as seen in Mort Walker, the cartoonist of the comic strip Beetle Bailey, and Lester Barsky, who follows his passion of becoming a musician following his traditional career. Role theory identifies that retirement can cause anxiety, particularly for individuals who strongly identify their self-value with the type of work they do.
Perhaps this is most prominent in Bob Levey, who had worked at the Washington Post for nearly four decades, and is facing pressure from the newspaper to retire. He explains his mental reaction to his impending retirement, which include the stubborn wish that the paper will somehow not be able to function without him, before ultimately resigning himself to the fact that he is only one part of the company, and that it will function fine without him. Judy Neff does not face pressure to retire, but still identifies strongly with her work; based on her desire to stay with her company for many more years, it is clear that she self-identifies strongly with her work, and would experience anxiety should she be pressured into retiring.
Continuity theory suggests that those who find rewarding activities or endeavors after the age of retirement, whether professional or creative, are less likely to view retirement as a crisis. In this regard, Mort Walker apparently has the ideal circumstance: because he is able to work as a cartoonist from home, he does not view his professional career as ‘work’ in the traditional sense. His creative position allows him to retain his work without the corporate pressure of retirement, and because he enjoys his work, he sees no point in officially retiring. Lester Barsky is another individual in the documentary that pursues creativity following retirement, by seeking to play music with a larger orchestra. Although this differs from his career path, it provides a creative outlet, and his general attitude seems to be that retirement is not the loss of individual self-worth, but rather an opportunity to seek new experiences.
Ideally, the person I will resemble the most when am of retirement age is Mort Walker, simply because he is professionally and creatively rewarded for his art; he does not view his cartoon strip as laborious work, and this I feel would be the ideal circumstance. His job does not require any skills that would be compromised by aging, and there are no corporate policies that might encourage him to retire before he is ready. Of course, Mort Walker is in a relatively unique experience; the value of an artist is being independent, and he has been fortunate enough to find professional success from his art. If my own circumstances are not comparable, the person I would also like to be upon retiring is Lester Barsky, who is able to pursue creative passions following his professional retirement. One element of the video that stood out was near the beginning, when the traditional concept of retiring as simply idling and waiting was described as the equivalent of putting one’s brain to sleep. This, I think, is the primary thing to avoid, and therefore I hope to pursue as many opportunities as possible after retiring from professional work. Although still being paid and professionally rewarded for creative work would be the most rewarding experience, as with Mort Walker, pursuing creative opportunities regardless of whether they are professional or not would similarly be rewarding.