Not long ago, a controversy arose among our colleagues (maybe you were one of them) regarding the acceptability of referring to ourselves as “senior ophthalmologists.” (The controversy, of course, had to do with the adjective “senior.”) There were those who felt that the term connoted too much a sense of “old” or even “senile,” and some were reluctant to wear their SO ribbons at the annual Academy meetings.
Susan Day, MD, chair of the Academy’s Senior Ophthalmologist Committee, addressed the question with an editorial in the Spring 2016 issue of Scope. In her usual elegant and sensitive manner, she pointed out the many positive meanings of the word “senior,” and assured us that being labeled such is not something to bemoan or avoid, but rather to celebrate. And, for most of us, that seemed to put the controversy to rest. At least it did for me.
But the question had an occasion to resurface in my consciousness during a recent trip to Spain. As in most parts of the world, the price of admission to museums and other attractions is tiered according to age: children, adults and — seniors. In Spanish, however, the latter category is called “jubilados,” which struck me as a marvelous descriptor for those of us who are fortunate enough to have made it to this time in our lives.
The Spanish word, “jubilado,” basically translates as “retired,” but doesn’t it suggest the perfect attitude for those of us who were (or still are) privileged to spend our careers practicing the best specialty in medicine?
And, as we taper down our practice of ophthalmology or transition to the next chapter of our life, we have so many reasons to be jubilant. We can look back with satisfaction and gratitude for what we were allowed to contribute to our society, and we can look forward to the many opportunities in our second half of life: more time with our families, books unread, hobbies that patiently waited for us, community service, new relationships and so many places to travel and new things to see.
Whatever your reasons may be, I hope you are spending this special time of life with a profound sense of jubilation.