Although we all do it in different ways, it is nearly impossible to live for 5 or 6 decades without learning a handful of things. On reflection, some of these may be useful to others – if we could only figure out an opportunity to teach them. This might be easier to achieve than many think it would be. Anyone who has lived fifty years or longer has something to teach – something worth teaching to others. It may not be immediately obvious, but it is sure as heck there!
You would need to 1) Want to teach something, 2) Have a disposition given to helping others move along a path you have traveled – in their own way and at their own pace, and 3) Be willing to devote some time and energy to finding an appropriate venue to offer your still developing lifetime of learning to others.
In any community, there are apt to be both paid and volunteer opportunities to teach – either adults and/or children. The things you did as hobbies might be fun to teach to others. The work you did to earn a living, at a simplified level, might be quite helpful to people who don’t need to acquire your expertise, but only the rudiments of its foundation.
Adult schools, continuing education programs, community centers senior centers, child-care centers, local youth programs and night schools come quickly to mind as possibilities.
In a larger sense, I had the idea one time that a possible answer to a two pronged social problem (lack of available jobs for the young and the largely untapped or even totally wasted wisdom of the aged) might be addressed in one fell swoop. What if everyone, once they hit the age of 60 (just to pick a random age) was required to ‘retire’ from whatever it was they had been doing for a living for most of their adult lives.
That would open up new job opportunities for the young. Then, each of these freshly retired ‘new life teachers’ would each be assigned, according to their interests, dispositions, skills and experiences, into jobs in their own communities as teachers – thereby capturing some of the wisdom and knowledge that is traditionally available only through extended life experience.
But, social restructuring notwithstanding, I DO believe that each person who has knowledge and the interest in sharing it is an untapped resource that we, as a society, are not taking good advantage of.
When I think about ‘retiring,’ I think about doing what I choose to do with my time rather than working, which I regard as what we do, at least in part, because we must. I’d like to think that along with my aging peer-cadre of boomers, we have a lot to offer. The task is to find the opportunity to share what we have learned with others and seize it.