My Next Quinquennium

quin·quen·ni·um /kwinˈkwenēəm/ Noun: A specified period of five years.

I love new words, especially the 50¢ variety, and so it is with quinquennium. I encountered it while reading a business article about China, where the author was speculating about the future of the Chinese economy, over the next five years. He was less than optimistic. The juxtaposition of quinquennium and the Communist phrase, five-year plan, gave the article an interesting dichotomy.  

The machinations of the Chinese economy are beyond me, but the article did cause me to think about where I saw myself in the next five years. Remember that interview question? Optimistically, I see myself as being retired in the next five years, but another business article seemed to cast doubt about that too.

According to this article, the concept of retirement is both very modern and also rather transitory. As late as the 1880s, ¾ of American males were still working at age 65 or older. Records for American women were not kept then. The nadir was reached in 1988 when only 20% of men 65 or older were still in the workforce. As of last year that number had ticked up to 22%. The reasons for this are many and varied. Men and women are living longer. The paradigm of a person working their entire career at just one company is almost archaic. More and more employers no longer offer pension plans. This trifecta has reversed the century old trend of earlier retirement, and it is not coming back.

As Anne has just pointed out to me, while previewing this post, I won’t be 65 in five years, only 62 years old. So, my aforementioned optimism, might have been better labeled, delusion, but such are the things that dreams are made of. On the company website, they have this neat little widget that estimates your retirement income. It comes up set to age 65 and for me reads “comfortable”. I could slide it all the way to the right, age 75, and it would read “almost rich”. If I slide it all the way to the left, like next year and on a Monday morning, I do wish it could go further, it would read like rural Mississippi. Is it coincidence that after such a lovely weekend, I chose this theme to write about on a Monday evening?

This post’s three pictures are from Chris’s Camera, taken in Santa Cruz. They include close-ups of Nik and Erendira Wallenda and another telephoto shot of the couple on the high wire. They have three children, Yanni, Amadaos, and Evita, who, have DNA passed down from 25 generations of circus performers. Nik’s ambition is to honor the memory of his great-grandfather Karl, by walking across the Grand Canyon. He has already secured the permits. Another contingent of the Wallenda family performs in Saint Louis, as part of Circus Flora. Anne, Joanie and I regularly go to see them perform.

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