NPR shared a special story this week that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. Jane Little was a tiny 4’11” double bass player who joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra when she was 16. I’m sure it was great to watch the smallest person in the orchestra playing the biggest instrument. She became a Guinness world record holder in February for performing with the orchestra for 71 years, at age 87. She was set to retire next month. And she died while performing on stage this week.
She literally died doing what she loved, weeks before she was going to stop doing it. I watched that video and teared up. It seems like her life was perfect, she was so happy, and she never retired. This brings me to the question of whether people die soon after they retire because their purpose for living is gone. The Guardian published an article about this earlier this month that cited a study that found that “healthy retirees who worked a year longer (over the age of 65) had an 11% lower ‘all-cause mortality risk.'” People talk about how they can’t wait to retire, but maybe they don’t know what they’re asking for.
So, the solution? Be like Jane. Make your job something you love, and you can do it for the rest of your life. (Aside: Can I make drinking wine and riding my bike my job?)