Sunday 25 October 2015

63 and Counting

I’m 63. More than likely, you’re not. More than likely, you’re younger than me. Consequently, how does your view of the world differ from mine? With age, do we tend to look back more often and with greater concern? What have I accomplished? What’s left for me?

Justin Trudeau, at the age of 43, has just been elected Prime Minister of Canada, with a majority government I should add. Where am I now? Where was I at age 43? The vast majority of us are average people. Not famous. Not rich. No Oscars, Nobels or Pulitzers sitting on our mantelpieces. And yet, I’ve met people over the years who have been interesting personalities in their own right, accomplished, and blessed with an array of life experiences. In light of that, would a trophy have made it any better? At the end of the day, the cameras have been turned off, the crowds have gone home, and all of us sit alone with our thoughts. How do we feel about ourselves? How confident do we feel? What sense of accomplishment do we have? How much do we love ourselves? If you’re 43, are you out there trying to set the world on fire while at 63 you’re reflecting on your attempt to set the world on fire and how much you succeeded or failed?

Bill Richardson (b 1955) is a Canadian radio broadcaster and author. (Wikipedia) According to his story, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) let him go in 2013 and he began a new part of his life without regular employment. A recent article in the Globe and Mail (Oct 19/2015) shed some light on Mr. Richardson’s adjustment.

"It’s an odd time. I’m in a different kind of stage of life; I don’t have a 9-to-5 anymore, which in some ways makes me crazy, absolutely crazy, because I’m appalled at how much time I can waste, absolutely appalled. When I should have all this time that I can use productively, I stare into the middle distance and poke around and waste time on the Internet."

Richard describes this “weird new stage of life” and how without work and the public life that goes along with it, he has become invisible. He says his identity was tied to his job, but now, he’s had to redefine himself.

My Retirement
Informally, I have agreed to leave my employ at age 65. I have two years left, two years of a regular pay cheque after which, I have to get by under my own power. Without a regular job, I will have each day, every day, totally free to do whatever I want, including, as Mr. Richardson mentioned above, wasting my time on the Internet.

Like most people who face this change of life I imagine, I wonder about the finances. That seems to be the first looming concern about my new life. Do I leave my career job and immediately seek out part-time employment at a laughable fraction of my salary?

However, like all people who face this change of life I imagine, just what the heck am I going to do with all this newfound time? Waste it on the Internet like Bill Richardson? Or do I find a new life goal and strike out on a new journey? Do I shave my head, put on a robe, and become a monk in a monastery in Tibet? Like the author Elizabeth Gilbert, do I take a world tour of self-discovery and write my own Eat, Pray, Love?

By The Numbers
We all have numbers. It puts a certain objective slant on things. (Every number is a story, so maybe I'll offer up other blog postings in the future.)

My current age. The average male lives for 82 years. You do the math.

The number of years left in my working career. Two years to save as much as possible and be ready to manage my life without a bi-weekly direct deposit.

If I make it to retirement, I will have been in my current position for 22 years.

The number of times I’ve nearly been fired from my current job. I work in a politicised environment and on two separate occasions, two of my colleagues took a disliking to me and attempted to have me terminated. My job has been at times a scary ride.

The number of my colleagues who have been let go. Over my career, I’ve been required to work directly with three people and in each case those people were terminated. The three include the two I mention above. Years ago, the president of the company said to me, maybe jokingly, maybe seriously, “How do you know you’ve done a good job? You get to come back to work next Monday.” At the end of 22 years, I don’t talk about having succeeded or failed, I say that I’ve survived.

It’s been five years since my divorce. No comment to make there other than everything I go through, I go through alone. At least I never wake up in the middle of the night shivering because somebody has hogged all the blankets.

In my posting “Passion: Can you live with it?” (Oct 23/2010), I discuss Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, specifically the fifth level self-actualization. I make the distinction between any activity (you work at a fast food outlet) and something you feel strongly about (you do something rewarding, that gives you a sense of accomplishment). I claim that if you truly love your work; it isn’t work per se it’s fun. I have had times in my life when I have been so intensely involved in something, I have gone to bed at night excited by what had happened during the day and looking forward to what could possibly happen tomorrow. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I know somebody who, at the age of 57, took up the Irish fiddle. He went from zero to being obsessed with it. This guy would get up in the morning and practise for an hour while having his cup of coffee. He’d have breakfast, play another 30 minutes, and then go to work. He’d practise during lunch. He’d come home, practise for an hour, have dinner, then practise again or go out to an evening of group practising. To an outsider (and to his wife and kids), it seemed crazy, even addictive or obsessive, but I recognised he had been “bitten by the bug” and it can be a wonderful ride when you’re caught up in the passion. He’ll never be a great Irish fiddle player, but he’s having the time of his life. We should all be so lucky.

Find what you like and let it kill you.
- Kinky Friedman (b 1944, Texas country singer, humorist)

Final Word
I’m 63. But I’m still counting. My retirement at age 65 will be a life-changing event, which leaves me two years to figure out what I am going to change to. Caterpillar to butterfly? Whatever it is, I hope I can make it a good one. And in saying that, I realise I forgot some numbers. (all in feet)

The height at which I stepped out of the airplane for my tandem parachute jump. (Oct 9/2010)

The distance straight down to the ground when I leaned off the CN Tower in Toronto for EdgeWalk, an outside walk around the tower. (Sep 28/2012)

The height of the platform from which I leapt when I did my bungee jump. (Oct 12/2013)

If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.
—Eubie Blake (1887-1983), American musician


Image from Zazzle: 63 year hats

my blog: I’m a 62-Year-Old Man and I’m Invisible - Mar 31/2015
Recently I ran across a number of articles about the issue of being a woman over 50 and being invisible in today’s society. What struck me as odd about this was that when I reflected on my own situation, I had to admit that I am, by their definition, invisible.

my blog: 62: 10, 9, 8… - Oct 20/2014
I amusingly recounted to some old friends last week my countdown theory. We start out at 10. Everything is good, we’re firing on all cylinders. Something bad happens, a health issue, and we end up at 3. Oooo, this is so not good. Life sucks. We visit the doctor. We take our pills. We do physio; we exercise; and ever so slowly, we manage to work our way back up to 9. 9 isn’t 10, but 9 is way better than 3, and for that we’re grateful. 9 is good. We can live with that.

my blog: 61 down, 19 to go - Oct 20/2013
19 to go? Yes, it may sound morbid, but based on genes and statistics; it is a realistic estimate of the time left before this ride is over. And if you knew that your vacation was going to be over next Tuesday, would you not plan accordingly? Should you not plan accordingly?

my blog: I’m 60. Now what? - Oct 20/2012
Sixty. Hmph. So the moment is here and this is what it feels like. Hmph. What was I expecting? I do realise however that to a twenty something, I am officially an old man. But just what the heck does old feel like? Are we back to the idea that age is a state of mind? Hey, my puffing because I'm winded or my vitamin supplements or the grey hair showing up in my beard isn't what I would call a state of mind. Nope this is the real deal. This is it.

my blog: My Rocky Horror Birthday - Oct 23/2011
It's your birthday and what could somebody do to celebrate it in an out of the ordinary manner worthy of Monty Python's famous "And now for something completely different"? How about a small dinner theatre which seats a maximum of 88 people and an amateur troop's fourth annual presentation of a 1973 cult classic whose protagonist is a transvestite? Yep, I think that fits the bill quite nicely.

Uploaded on 31 Jul 2008 by doctorzaius77
YouTube: The Beatles - Happy Birthday
Whenever anybody has a birthday, at work, on Facebook, etc., I send them this link. Corny, but it does the trick.


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