People that think about anything because they want to rather than because they have to are the luckiest ones in this life. I only have direct experience in science, so I will qualify this statement by saying that a true scientist that has the time and the chance of thinking about whatever she or he wants is among the luckiest people in the world.
God willing, I am not planning to retire from science. Sure, there may be a time when I may not be physically able to go and actually DO experiments, but barring any cruel neurological conditions that may hinder my ability to think (full disclosure – my personal terrors in these sense are Alzheimer’s Disease and stroke, in that order —note added in 2014: heart disease added to the list—) I should still be able to wonder, to think, and as I have discovered relatively recently, to write about this incredible, yet mysteriously understandable universe of ours.
If I ever retire from thinking for a living I will then become that purest of thinkers, the amateur.
In those same lines, another type of thinkers that I believe share the advantage of not having to “retire” are writers (this is hardly an original thought of mine; look here).
Again, in a way similar to how I define a true scientist, I choose to define a true writer as someone who has “something to say” and itches to say it in writing so others can read about it. The beauty about being a writer is that in most cases you are quite never done; there’s always something else to say and a true writer goes at it with gusto.
Then there’s the best of both worlds, at least from my perspective. A scientist that can also write. I hope to be able to call myself a “writer” one day (—note added in 2014: I did it!!!). It is a great responsibility (see here and here). That said, my admiration and awe go to that relatively rare breed of writers, Science Fiction writers. I can honestly say that I do not think I’ll ever be able to write anything like that, and in a future post, I plan to tell you why I think SF writers are the best, bar none.
So guys, what do you think? Do you want to retire? I don’t.
Picture credit: http://www.agweb.com