Calling artists to invite them to participate in a celebratory exhibit at the university, I notice the pleasure in their voices -- they love being asked and they often give the impression that it is an honor to be invited. Some of them are elders, sometimes not all that steady at their advanced age, and in their voices I hear this: "Somebody believes that part of my life's work is still of value."
Hearing a beautiful, modest gratitude in some of their voices, I find myself wondering: "How could people in many other walks of life have their work set up in such a way that they too could feel in retirement that they had done something valuable that we still honored?"
Part of the answer would be in the way the work is set up--the chance for meaning there, and dignity--and part of it is up to the person. Maybe too, part of it is in the way the society talks about work--talks about more than just its financial value. When and where could we hope to sustain that kind of change in the culture? It seems unlikely.