The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Life's Work Rewarded

Today will be busy. I have chores to do. Things that must be done before I leave for my three week (or so) trip to California and back. There's that lawn to mow and the bamboo curtain to repair. And packing to be done. Yes, I pack the day before I leave on a trip. Actually, the night before.

That's a new habit, by the way. Packing some time, like a day, before a trip. I always used to pack just before I left. Like an hour before. It's part of the art of procrastination. I plan on explaining about my procrastination. Soon. I promise.

Which brings me to the exchange I just had with Argentum about retirement. He feels he is approaching it and dreads it. I always looked forward to it and welcomed its arrival. Not that I had a bad job, mind you. It was perfect for me. I had no deadlines, no pressure to produce a product on schedule. I spent more time sitting around than I did actually working, it seemed.

The job was primarily troubleshooting problems. Oh, we had some mundane routine busy work we had to do but I could put that off until someone else dealt with it most of the time. Some people like those routine things and I was happy to allow them that pleasure. My joy is in the solving of puzzles and equipment troubles were all puzzles.

Being a procrastinator, and a lazy one, I rarely sought out these troubles. But I never shied away from any either. I would, on occasion, volunteer to take over a problem someone else was having great difficulty resolving. There is nothing quite like the mental orgasm resulting from the solving of a particularly nettlesome, protracted, intermittent trouble. Like an especially strong sneeze... only longer and subtler. Zen practitioners might call it Satori because it starts with that moment of enlightenment when the solution becomes clear.

When I was young, I knew little about retirement. My father never spoke of it, certainly. In fact, he never spoke of it in his entire life. I suspect he did not look forward to it. I think he wanted to work until the day he died. He wanted to be busy all the time. I managed to avoid that gene. Still, when I was growing up, the concept was to find something I would enjoy doing the rest of my life. It was all about your life's work.

Think about it a bit. Fairy tales and folklore always had characters who had some trade and many of these were well into old age. There was never any talk of a "retired tailor" or "retired hunter". No, only old ones and apprentices.

Throughout my youth, I considered what I would like to do that would sustain me and entertain me throughout my life. I thought of art. I liked to draw. I thought I could learn to sculpt. Ah, but I learned that my talents were meager and uninspired. I could not conjure up an idea in my head and translate it onto canvas or even paper, much less carve it out of stone or mold it out of clay. So many others were so much better than I at these things.

I once considered law. After all, I loved to argue. But this would take long term planning, careful preparation, and entailed a responsibility for others' fates. I eventually gave up that dream.

I fell into my career by accident. I needed a job after leaving the Navy, getting married, and moving back to Florida. Someone told me the phone company might be hiring and I applied. I was lucky that they were looking for people to fix problems. It was a perfect match for me.

But it was not a lifetime job. It would not last until I died unless I died relatively young (something I had always hoped to avoid). And I found I enjoyed the downtime, the time I was sitting around reading or chatting with co-workers, as much as I enjoyed troubleshooting.

I had found my niche. I was born to be retired. And now I am.


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7 comments:

Embee said...

I'm still waiting to find what I do and/or like best. I suspect that I'd be bored in retirement, though. But I'm willing to give it a try, in 20+ years or so.

You're a crafty wordsmith, can you string 6 compelling words together and post them in the comments at my blog? I'm having a "Six Words Poetry" event....everyone's invited to stop by and give it a try.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Not so much that I dread retirement, I can't see myself as retired. I am the product of my father who never retired as such despite bypasses at 60 and an angioplasty at 63, he worked until he died of a stroke at 73. Now there is a man who never smoked, drank, lied nor swore, I do all of these, and hope sincerely that I follow the footsteps of both grandfathers who also did all and both died in their 90s

I see retirement as vegetation, I would hate to be a vegetable.

It is to this end that I see retirement as a redundant state of mind. I may get my pension when I turn 65, but stop work, that I can't see myself doing, for I see life as a learning curve until we part this mortal coil, and then, according to some, it doesn't stop there. I will wait and see.

I just hope that in the end, I am able to dance towards the light waving Chardonnay in one hand, chocolates in the other shouting "Thanks for the ride!" If there is one thing I dread, it is not having the faculties to do that.

btw, nice to be a catalyst...

AV

Douglas said...

Embee - I appreciate that and did as you asked. Others should too. He site is Six Words of Poetry It's a sort of a shortened haiku.

AV - I misread your dread. But you seemed saddened by the prospect. Maybe you were just being wistful about aging. I have found surrounding myself by active 70-somethings (and some 0ctagenerians) makes me feel like a young man.

Michael said...

I throw everything in my suitcase five minutes before we have to leave the house to the airport. I then tidy it up in the cab. The huge rush gives the vacation a good, exciting beginning.

I can't fall into a job by accident, and I can't picture myself retiring. I suppose that's normal and right, as I'm still at my age.

But I actually understand what AV is saying. My grandfather hates being a vegetable. Retirement need not be a bad thing if you know generally what you'll be doing. Not so much 'planning' the future, but merely having an idea of what you want to/can do to not feel vegetative.

Michael.

Douglas said...

Michael - An interesting mix, procrastinator who likes to plan ahead. I also did not want to merely lay around but I gave up the idea of working long ago. When I was not retired, my job was rarely work. As I noted, it was mostly solving puzzles and that isn't work for me. The reason I really started looking forward to retirement was that the problem solving became more rare as the technology improved. It was time for me to move on.

Douglas said...

Embee - I appreciate that and did as you asked. Others should too. He site is Six Words of Poetry It's a sort of a shortened haiku.

AV - I misread your dread. But you seemed saddened by the prospect. Maybe you were just being wistful about aging. I have found surrounding myself by active 70-somethings (and some 0ctagenerians) makes me feel like a young man.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Not so much that I dread retirement, I can't see myself as retired. I am the product of my father who never retired as such despite bypasses at 60 and an angioplasty at 63, he worked until he died of a stroke at 73. Now there is a man who never smoked, drank, lied nor swore, I do all of these, and hope sincerely that I follow the footsteps of both grandfathers who also did all and both died in their 90s

I see retirement as vegetation, I would hate to be a vegetable.

It is to this end that I see retirement as a redundant state of mind. I may get my pension when I turn 65, but stop work, that I can't see myself doing, for I see life as a learning curve until we part this mortal coil, and then, according to some, it doesn't stop there. I will wait and see.

I just hope that in the end, I am able to dance towards the light waving Chardonnay in one hand, chocolates in the other shouting "Thanks for the ride!" If there is one thing I dread, it is not having the faculties to do that.

btw, nice to be a catalyst...

AV