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Freemasonry: A Framework for Meaningful Engagement in Retirement

27 March 24

The Context of Retirement:

As a 50-year-old Freemason, I've come to see retirement not just as a stage of life, but as a transition requiring a new kind of contribution. Today's young generation, like Gen Z, are currently far removed from this phase. They are immersed in their first jobs and living life in the moment, where thoughts of retirement are distant.

Although not fully retired yet, Freemasonry has given me purpose, and a place to be, it’s given me social interaction and regularity, along with mind exercise, and responsibility. It has enabled me to not only learn more about myself but with my life experiences has allowed me to impart life lessons to others.

Being the “older” man in the room doesn’t always lend itself to being the wiser one!

Early Career Realizations:

Reflecting on my early years, especially during the challenging transition from youth to adulthood, I recognize a common pattern in our experiences. This period is often marked by the pursuit of establishing a family and embarking on a career, where the immediate needs and aspirations take centre stage. In this rush, the concept of community tends to be overlooked, overshadowed by the high-speed demands of laying life's foundations—such as nurturing early family relationships and securing a professional foothold.

During this whirlwind of early adulthood, important considerations like retirement planning are easily neglected. When I was first introduced to the concept of superannuation in my early career days, I, like many others, underestimated its importance. This oversight is not surprising; young adults are frequently preoccupied with immediate concerns, leaving little room to appreciate the necessity of a post-work income.

However, it's important to recognize that the decisions we make about our family and career in these early years are closely linked to our later life. Building a family involves not only emotional bonds but also financial planning for the future, and career choices set the path for long-term financial stability. Thus, integrating community support and awareness of future planning into these early stages can provide a more comprehensive approach to life’s journey. By doing so, we better prepare for all life's stages, ensuring a balance between immediate priorities and long-term well-being.

Middle Age Concerns:

Fast-forward to the present, those in the Gen X and Boomer generations are now confronting the realities of retirement. Questions about financial sufficiency and daily life post-retirement are common. Friends often talk about countdowns to retirement, contemplating activities like travel, grandparent duties, or long-awaited projects. Yet, these ideas sometimes feel more like temporary distractions rather than fulfilling long-term plans.

The Freemason Perspective at 50:

As I navigate my 50s, I find myself reflecting deeply on the trajectory of my life, particularly the early stages that often set the foundation for our later years. Acknowledging the gaps and overlooked issues from those formative periods has led to a significant shift in my outlook. My focus has broadened, becoming more holistic and encompassing various dimensions of well-being. Now, my concerns are not just about staying relevant and active, but also about maintaining a balanced and enriching life.

It's no longer solely about ceasing work; it's about continuing to find purpose and meaning in all aspects of my existence. This includes maintaining social connections, pursuing intellectual interests, and preserving physical health. The need for mental stimulation, emotional fulfilment, and physical activity doesn't retire with us. It becomes even more crucial as we seek new roles and redefine our identity post-retirement.

Many men in this stage of life are drawn to new purposes, often finding solace and satisfaction in contributing to community organizations or exploring passions that were sidelined during their working years. However, this transition isn't without its challenges. Feelings of loss, irrelevance, or disconnection can surface, especially when one's lifelong job, often a major part of one's identity, is handed over to someone else.

This journey has underscored for me the importance of addressing and reflecting on the entirety of our life experiences, not just our professional achievements. It's about understanding and integrating the lessons from all life stages, allowing us to develop a more comprehensive and fulfilling vision for our later years.

Freemasonry as a Continual Learning Journey:

My journey with Freemasonry began years ago, and it has profoundly shaped every facet of my life. This brotherhood transcends the concept of a mere fraternity; it is a dynamic and evolving platform for lifelong learning and personal growth.

The sense of community and belonging I've found in Freemasonry is unparalleled, offering me a space to contribute meaningfully at every stage of my life, especially as I approach retirement.

In this unique fellowship, the pursuit of self-improvement is not just a phase but a perpetual journey. Even for those who consider themselves well-versed in life's lessons, Freemasonry presents an invaluable opportunity to deepen their understanding and continue growing, demonstrating that personal development and community involvement remain crucial throughout one’s life, particularly in the later years.

The Role of Freemasonry in Retirement:

For those approaching or already in retirement, Freemasonry offers several key benefits:

  • Purpose and Brotherhood: It provides a sense of belonging and connection with people from diverse backgrounds. Freemasonry is grounded in principles of mateship, charity, and community engagement.
  • Personal Development: Freemasonry is an avenue for personal growth. It encourages introspection, understanding one's limitations, and striving for self-improvement.
  • Charitable Endeavours: Freemasonry emphasizes charity, not only in financial terms but also in the invaluable currency of time and experience. This age-old institution fosters a spirit of altruism, urging its members to extend support to others without expecting monetary rewards. The emphasis is on finding fulfilment in the act of giving itself, a principle that has far-reaching impacts on mental health and well-being.

In recent years, research has shed light on the psychological benefits of altruistic behaviour. Engaging in charitable activities is linked to improved mood, reduced stress levels, and a greater sense of purpose. For Freemasons, the commitment to community service and helping those in need goes beyond the mere satisfaction of contributing; it plays a crucial role in enhancing their mental health and cognitive resilience.

Moreover, participating in such community-oriented endeavours has been found to assist memory and cognitive function. The social interaction involved in these activities stimulates mental processes, reinforcing memory and other cognitive skills. This is particularly beneficial for older members, as staying socially active is key to maintaining cognitive health in later years.

Furthermore, the structured environment of Freemasonry, with its rituals and learning opportunities, provides an excellent platform for mental stimulation. Members are often engaged in activities that require memorisation and understanding of complex symbols and philosophies, which are excellent exercises for the brain. This continuous intellectual engagement is not only a means of personal development but also helps in keeping the mind sharp and agile, potentially delaying the onset of age-related cognitive decline.

In essence, the charitable activities championed by Freemasonry are more than just acts of kindness; they are an investment in the mental health and cognitive well-being of the community and the individuals involved. Through these endeavours, members experience a profound sense of satisfaction and mental enrichment, illustrating the timeless adage that in giving, we receive.

Freemasonry: The Lifelong Labour:

Describing Freemasonry as the 'labour of life' aptly summarizes its role. Throughout our careers, we work hard for our families and in our professions. We build relationships, earn respect, and impart knowledge.

Freemasonry provides an avenue to continue using these life and leadership skills. It’s a place where the dedication and experience garnered over a career can still be applied, where one can remain relevant and continue contributing to society.

In conclusion, Freemasonry offers a meaningful framework for those in retirement. It’s a platform for continued personal growth, societal contribution, and maintaining relevance in a changing world. For Freemasons, retirement is not the end of their journey but a new chapter in their lifelong commitment to self-improvement and community service.

By RW Bro Owen Sandry


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