After The Rat Race


By John Mosedale

Crown x 244pp x $22

A couple of years ago, John Mosedale, a writer for the CBS Evening News, noticed that fellow workers kept getting younger, while he was running the risk of becoming "the man everybody called 'Pops.'" To avoid such ignominy, he retired, but decided to keep a journal of how he occupied his time. The good news, he reports, is that life still exists in the uncharted wasteland of retirement, even though one might have to sharpen one's eyes and other senses to live it fully.

Mosedale claims his retirement problems were not much different from those of a punch-press operator or a policeman. But after a life in the pressure cooker of network-TV news, his journal teems with references to "Walter," "Harry," "Andy," and "Dan." Retirement meant withdrawing cold turkey from the "daily adrenaline shot of the deadline." He was helped by a love of books, including "an obsession" with Shakespeare, listening to opera, walking the endlessly varied streets of Manhattan, a Minnesota summer home, his 30-year love affair with his wife, Betty, and a generally tough-minded skepticism toward many commonplaces of modern life, including TV, which he says "was more fun to write for than watch."

This isn't a how-to-retire-happy manual, an idea Mosedale rightly scorns. But it contains an implied message that those who dread retirement might ponder: Make every day count. Regard the familiar with fresh awareness. As the poet said, make it new. A good formula, not just for retirement but for life.

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