Breaking the Watch
The Meanings of Retirement in America
The topic of retirement becomes increasingly compelling as the U.S. population ages. It's easy to find books about how to plan financially for those years after careers end, but Breaking the Watch focuses on the many ways of creating a life, not just making a living, as a retired person.
This book follows women and men from a rural American community as they approach and experience the first years of retirement. Joel Savishinsky focuses on the efforts people make to find meaning in a stage of life American culture often views in a confused or disdainful way.
In conversations and stories, 13 men and 13 women demonstrate a deep commitment to defining their own retirement. They bring to their mature years a diversity of backgrounds, interests, and responsibilities. They include former teachers, librarians, doctors, farmers, lawyers, bankers, mail carriers, and secretaries. Some are married, others divorced or single; many have children and grandchildren, but some have neither. Their finances run the gamut from the modest to the munificent, while their health ranges from robust to disabled.
From an examination of the "rites of passage" that marked their exit from full-time work, Breaking the Watch moves on to consider how to plan appropriately for retirement; renegotiate ties to friends, family, and community; and create a sense of passion—be it for t'ai chi, travel, painting, or politics—that will drive a new sense of purpose. These intimate glimpses into real lives allow a rare understanding of the retirement process.