The term Third Age was coined by the French in Toulouse in 1973. The concept was adapted and embraced by the UK in 1980. The new format changed from being a purely academic gathering in universities, to more of a self-help organisation, acknowledging that retired people have a lifetime of experience and collectively, a vast amount of knowledge.
It seems to me that in the First Age of our lives we fumble about with hormones, education and choices. By the Second age we are consolidating lifestyle, relationships and careers. Only when entering the Third Age, (retirement age), are we truly ourselves. We can drop all the labels of life and just be ourselves.
I am finding retirement a great release. A year before retiring I began making a list of all the things I wanted to try out and all the places I yet had to see. The list is very long indeed.
Not all of these things need big bank accounts either. Walking groups don’t cost, visits to exhibitions in my local area are good and the senior bus pass is a god send. I keep a close eye on the library and any lectures coming up and have become a volunteer for the National Trust so I enjoy a beautiful old property with has connections to Sir Walter Raleigh.
My career always involved travel which is my first love learnt in my First age when my parents moved to South Africa. This passion continues and now I have found that by writing reviews for Silver Travel I can share the fun of travel with other Senior Travellers.
I met an interesting couple once who told me that since they retired they have always taken one separate holiday – he went climbing the Himalayas and she went on a yoga retreat and then they took one together that they both enjoyed. This way they kept their marriage fresh and respected each other as individuals.
For me travel is not just a change of bed and lots of food, it is an opportunity to see different cultures, learn about their history and listen to their music.
When you talk to people in different countries you realise that underneath our obvious differences we are all the same. Young women wonder who their husband will be. Mothers worry about their children. Men worry about getting work and feeding their families. The only difference is that children outside Europe are usually greedy for education and a chance to better themselves, but they all love football!
This year I have been organising speakers for U3A and again have met some interesting people. Groups throughout the country are varied but there is usually something for everyone to learn or just enjoy being sociable in your own community. I am off to my first summer school this year, another first for my Third Age.
My message to anyone coming up to retirement (and about to enter the Third Age) is – grab it with both hands and enjoy every minute of it.