Philanthropist and billionaire Vancouver businessman Jim Pattison is 94 years old. Born October 1, 1928, he will complete 95 later this year.

Still actively involved in all his companies, his intention of taking retirement seems remote. He drives down, most likely by his chauffeur, to work every day, including Sundays. He does not take a day off. He is indeed a workaholic that only relates to his businesses.

Pattison oversees his business empire covering grocery stores, car dealerships, media, advertising, amusements, and museums. Together all these enterprises generate revenue of billions of dollars a year.

The story of Pattison’s chronic work obsession and wholesome engagement with his business operations at 90-plus looks impressive, stirring and inspiring.

But the question comes to mind: why does Mr. Pattison keep himself engaged relentlessly? When loaded or overloaded with wealth, does he need to work to earn?

The answer lies in what other interests or alternatives he cultivated that could reroute his daily office commute to something more pleasurable and cheery. Noticeably, he does not have.

The joy of his life resides in the entanglement of his ventures. Business seems to be his obsession, a full-time pastime in which he revels.

Mr. Pattison’s life revolves around his trading posts. He gets his blast of cheers and delights from the daily financial numbers, figures, sales graphs and trendlines, market ups and downs, planning strategies, curbing the losses and counting the profits.

If Mr. Pattison does not go to the office, what else would he do, play on his trumpet?

He has limited himself in a situation where the only activity left is to keep working in his domain and seek joy from his multi-project undertakings.  

But Mr. Pattisom is not alone in this bind where people do not generate entertaining and worthy alternatives to pass their senior years.

We often come across stories similar to Mr. Pattison, where professionals, businessmen and women, and even ordinary folks in their 70s, 80s or 90s and a few beyond that, do not quit, not because of financial reasons. Still, simply retirement looks to them like a nightmare.

No aversion, diversion, or obsession leads to a life of monotony that some people foresee when the time comes to retire. They seldom develop any activity that would keep them recreationally occupied in their old age.

Even if they want to quit and retire from their vocations or businesses, the question comes to mind, “what I’m going to do if I don’t go to the office and work? The answer we often hear is, “I’ll be bored to death.”

A Punjabi proverb says, “I want to leave the blanket, but the blanket does not leave me.”

-by Promod Puri


  1. Clearly the Jim Pattison I’ve read about is not the same person as the one you read about. Pattison is an ultra right wing businessman who is an evangelical Christian. He follow what the right does in the US and runs his businesses accordingly. He is not a giver, but a taker. You may not want to publish this, but I’m telling you so you won’t be so complimentary. He is an ideologue by the way.


    1. Thanks for your comment, and I agree that he is through and through a businessman with leanings towards the Right. But you have completely missed the topic that I’m raising here. It is about developing recreational or community service activities in which people can participate when they enter retirement. If not, they keep on working as Pattison does.


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