Boy hero Atreyu, and Artex, in the movie,The Never Ending Story, Warner Bros 1984 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Retirement is a stage in life when we withdraw from the battlefield, so to speak, and recount the good old days on a rocking chair. It is likely the last stage in life when we look back into the past rather than gaze over the horizon. And for the present, we become mere spectators and no longer actors of the drama which Shakespeare beautifully expressed - The world's a stage, everyone has a role to play.
But this is not true today, not after 1989 when the world reached a turning point and a sudden leap of mankind, borrowing the American astronauts' greeting to the earth people upon stepping on the surface of the moon. The first reference affirms there is meaning of man's life (we all have a role to play), while the second reference is a challenge to man's future (post-modernism and space age).
The Cold War ended after 45 years, liberating nations and people from the polarized clutches of the two superpowers, satellite and cyberspace communications have virtually wired the whole earth, and world travel became a 24-hour circumnavigation. Ideologies found a common path of understanding, so with religious beliefs through ecumenism. Globalization became a universal aim and goal.
Retirement is indeed difficult to define where boundaries which used to divide the world politically, culturally, economically, and the like, are dissolving into a homogeneous global village, many believe to be the new world order. More so, when "matter does not age, and age does not matter," delightfully speaking.
“Welcome home! Chorused my three children the day I announced my decision to retire under the government’s early retirement plan.
I realized I have not been truly home with my family. A feeling of guilt crept in but I knew from the start how to amend for my deficiency.
While adjusting to a new life I was not accustomed to, I could not help but look back into the kind of world I left behind.
The price of rice continued to rise. As an anchor against inflation, any increase in the price of this staple signals the spiraling of prices of other commodities. Many food items in the last ten years have become luxury to the masses. Low productivity was blame to force majeure rather than the lack of clear cut and firm policies. Investment was not only unprecedentedly low, it favored industry, bypassing agriculture. Peace and order problems were spreading out fast with poverty in both urban and rural areas. We were falling to the bottom of the economic ladder in Asia and the Pacific region.
This is the drama that unfolded before me, now a spectator. I was once part of this drama. I played important roles in the field and on the desk, in the private sector and in the government for twenty long years. I was part of the economic miracle in the sixties and seventies. I was part of the modernization of the agriculture program. The last two decades the country has demonstrated leadership in agro-industrial development, and scientific and technological break-throughs. But we failed to keep up with the pace of development of neighboring countries and the free world.
On the vantage point of a private life I was soon to lead, I began to doubt if my work for many years had any significance at all. Did I make a difference?
It is now one month from the day I packed up for home. The sea in summer is ideal for fishing With my books that make a small library, reading and writing once again are occupying my time. Marlo and Carlo are asking me when the next camping on Mt. Makiling will be. Chris Ann begs to be part of an on-the-spot painting session for children. My family has never been so happy and secure.
One evening the whole family viewed The Never Ending Story, a fantasy for children. It is about a boy warrior destined to save the crumbling world of Fantasia, an imaginary world beyond. During his adventure, the hero encountered a fierce animal.
‘’If you come any closer, I will rip you into threads, “roared the animal.
‘’Who are you?’’ asked the startled boy.
‘’I am the wolf. And you, whoever you are, will have the honor to be my last victim.’’
‘’I will not die easily. I am a warrior.’’
‘’Brave warrior, then fight the nothing.’’
‘’But I can’t. I can’t. fight on the boundary of Fantasia.’’
The wolf laughed.
‘’What’s funny about that?’’
‘’Fantasia has no boundary.’’
‘’That’s not true. You are lying.’’
‘’Foolish boy’ don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It is a world of human fantasy. Every part,every creature of it is a piece of the dream and hope of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundary.’’
‘’Why is Fantasia dying then?’’The boy is perplexed.
‘’Because people have come to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So nothing goes stronger.’’
‘’What is the Nothing?’’
‘’It is the emptiness that is left. It is despair that is destroying this world, and I have been trying to help it,’’ the wolf f hollered.
‘’But why?’ demanded the boy.
‘’Because people who have no hope are easy to control. And whoever has the control has the power!’’
An earthquake shook the cave and rocks began to fall. When the dust settled, the two were face to face in combat, the boy holding a digger, and the wolf showing its fangs, snarling.
‘’Who are you really?’’ the boy intoned.
‘’I am the servant of the power behind Nothing . I was sent to kill the only one who can stop the Nothing. I lost him in the swamp of sadness. His name is Atreyu.
‘’If I were to die anyway, I would rather die fighting! Come on wolf, I am Atreyu.’’
The wolf lunged at the boy. Quickly the boy aimed his dagger at the beast’s heart and found its mark.
The death of the beast was the end of Atreyu’s travail. He save d Fantasia.
Today, in our real world, the wolf is no different enemy. It perpetuates on human weakness and preys upon the weak. It thrives on helplessness and despair, indifference and inaction, war and persecution. It looms around human miseries.
The confrontation of the warrior and the beast lives in fantasy, and many of us are relieved by that thought that it is not true - it is only a story. But now and then, the imagery is just too vivid to be just fantasy.
In the days that followed, I found myself once again engrossed with work, this time as professor in a university.
I believed I have not really retired. ~
Years after ...
Author as professor, UST Graduate School, with public school teachers taking refresher course; as organizer and instructor, Summer Art Workshop for Children
Author with a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) on environmental conservation; as author, with co-authors during a International Book Fair; as conference speaker; and as family man.