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TROUBLESHOOTER / I’m in my early 60s, I don’t know whether to quit work

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male company employee in my early 60s, and I’m debating whether I should continue in my current job.

I retired after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60, but I got a new job because I was very surprised at the high national health insurance premiums I’d have to pay if I was jobless.

I currently work twice a week or so, in 24-hour shifts including nighttime. I’m now covered by the social insurance program, which I’m happier about than having an income.

My wife is a dependent of mine and is covered by my social insurance. She goes to a hospital three times a week for dialysis. I take her to and from the hospital only when I’m available.

I’ll be 65 soon, so I feel it’s almost time to retire from work entirely, so I can regularly take her to and from the hospital. At the same time, however, I have the opposite feeling that I should continue working as long as my good health lasts. I can’t decide what to do.

I have needed a heart exam once a year since I was in my late 50s. I also take some medicine every day. But I have no problems with my daily life.

Y, Ishikawa Prefecture

Dear Mr. Y:

I suggest you take this opportunity to reflect on the basics of working and think about what it means to you, if you don’t have a pressing need to make money.

Working only for yourself may sound possible, but in reality it isn’t. If someone makes and sells something, they do so because there are people who eat or use it.

If you take part in some operation, such as a business or a social activity, you do so because the business or activity will eventually be useful for somebody else or beneficial to the public.

Any product you make is sold and any work you do has come into existence because it meets the needs of somebody else. In this respect, working results in making money, and also results in doing your duty as well.

If you view the meaning of work this way, you’ll probably understand that continuing your nighttime work and devoting your time and energy to caring for your wife are both nothing less than the act of working. Volunteer activities are of course a kind of respectable work. It’s you who should choose which role to play.

I want to add one more thing. Having a job also makes us feel livelier.

I advise you take these things into consideration and think again about what working fundamentally means to you.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from June 10 issue)Speech

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