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Published Friday, November 28, 2014, 11:52 am

The Next Chapter

By Herbert Belkin

One day you are fully involved in a job or a business. Your day is full of work; you have structure to your life, a daily schedule of how to spend your time. You have all of this structure one day and then the next day you retire. One day you never have enough time, the next you have too much with the immediacy of work gone. All too quickly life becomes open-ended and previously filled schedules are now empty.

After retirement and the structure of the workday gone, there is the danger of slipping into inactivity. Life slows down, the inconsequential fills the day. The question arises of how to stay functional in both mind and body. Now there is time for workouts, to discover what Yoga or Tai Chi is all about. And, of course, time for that always reliable form of exercise: walking. With the important motivation of keeping healthy, retirees have time to keep the body fit. How about the mind?

Available time also opens the pathways for mental exploration. What were the interests you had, the hobbies not developed, books unread. Now there is a chance to break out of the mental rut that accompanies routine. But once out, beware of entrapment by television that can act as an opiate for a mind newly liberated. Retirement can be the opportunity to develop underserved talents, explore new fields and satisfy unanswered curiosity.

Upon my retirement, all the above was my personal experience. As a new retiree, I had a void to be filled. That is when History came to my rescue; more specifically, the history of the Zionism together with the realization that this epic story was largely untold. Released from the myriad details of business my mind could now reach out to the fascinating study of this Jewish national movement. For a start, how were Zionist heroes like Herzl, Weizmann, Ben Gurion and Golda Meir able to create a Jewish homeland? The answer to this and many more questions lay in the books I started to read. Then I found that the more I read, there were more questions to be answered. These personal discoveries led to extensions of myself - a new retirement me. If I could read about Zionism, I could write about it. If I could write about it, I could teach it. Quite unexpectedly I found myself in the middle of a teaching career, one I call my next chapter career. Retirement is like reading a book - there is a next chapter waiting, start reading.

.Herb Belkin followed his own advice by training as a historian of modern Jewish history and launched a Next Chapter career as an author, lecturer and teacher. Herb can be reached at

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