Category Archives: Later, on retirement

In a Strange Land: Four

My exile from the land of earning was voluntary. I had, as they say, the wherewithal. It was not a case of being fortunate, though I knew that in many ways I had been. On a global scale, I was privileged. In a context more mundane, in the stratum of contemporary men of similar background, having the wherewithal was not a birthright. It did not just happen and nor was it luck or good fortune.

If I had no present worry about, well, cash flow, I owed it to my own foresight ten, twenty and thirty years ago. I felt grateful to the man I had been.

I had made a living in a land of schedules and deadlines, meetings and work products. There were none of those now in exile, except those of my own creation. There were no Monday to Friday workweeks anymore. I had left those behind, and the new landscape of seven-day weeks had taken some getting used to.

I had brought with me into exile habits of modest frugality. It was, in fact, a comfortable frugality. I was never a crusader for simple living. I saw no shame in occasional luxury but neither did I live beyond my means or very far beyond satisfaction. Still, I would not stop living in order to be more fully prepared for the unexpected.

A good life was not about money management just as a good meal was not about cooking skills.

The good was in the moment. It was in the quiet thunder of the emotional tremor of that moment. It was a fulfillment and gratitude that could never be purchased or owed.

And yet, I knew that achieving a level of financial comfort made life easier, and I wondered whether I would have been capable of having lofty thoughts about fulfillment if I had gone into exile with less in my pocket.

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Looking Back III

The next chapter is beginning its fourth year. The year just ending has been productive, with forty-four posts, starting with a retrospective of the preceding year, Looking Back II, posted in November 2015.

Politics dominated the past year as the next chapter followed the presidential election campaign in the United States. Eighteen posts addressed six “focus issues” and the candidates’ positions on these vital matters of public policy:

  • Immigration
  • Health Care
  • The Iran Nuclear Agreement
  • Climate Change
  • Minimum Wage
  • Campaign Finance Reform

A review of each candidate’s public statements on this set of issues provides a basis for comparing the candidates and for predicting their views on other important questions. We might also imagine what kind of country the United States will become, judging from the policy pronouncements of the winning candidate on these six focus issues.

Now, of course, we know the outcome of the election. The next chapter draws two conclusions from the nation’s choice of Donald Trump. First, the election was not about issues, and so despite this blog’s diligent efforts to present fairly the candidates’ views, in the end the analysis was just not relevant to the decision-making of most voters.

The focus issues, however, are no less important. Because the next chapter disagrees with Mr. Trump on just about everything (at least on the six focus issues), TNC’s second conclusion is that, under his leadership, Republican-dominated government (at the state and federal levels) will take the United States to uncomfortable and disheartening places for TNC and those who share its views.

One such uncomfortable and disheartening place is likely to be the Supreme Court. Republican senators seem to care more about the assumed political beliefs of nominees than about their judicial experience and jurisprudential intellect. Republicans blocked hearings on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Scalia. TNC wrote about this shameless abuse of power in Why I Am Not a Republican in February 2016. TNC also visited the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, capsulizing the Court’s opinion in the December 2015 post, The Freedom to Think.

The next chapter was created as a retirement project, and the blog has featured a series of postings on retirement and getting older. In TNC’s third year, this ongoing rumination over what has been called the Third Age has produced:

Who Are These Old People? – A summary of age-related statistics describing “old people” (aged 65 and older) in the United States.

Optimal Living – A look at “successful aging.”

And How Are We Today, Dear? –An examination of the insidious impact of “elderspeak” and the importance of having positive perceptions of aging.

Another retirement project is continuing my self-guided study of Spanish. I try to spend some time each day improving my comprehension and use of the Spanish language. After seven years, I still consider myself only an advanced beginner, but I have put my learning to the test by translating TNC’s postings to make this blog bilingual. Over the past year, TNC has featured the following translations:

¿Quién Saca Provecho? (Who Profits?)

Ahora Un Piñon, Siguiente Un Muelle (Now a Pinion, Next a Spring)

Jubilación Es El Nuevo Normal (Retirement Is the New Normal)

El Error de Nuestras Maneras (The Error of Our Ways)

Descubrimos Costa Rica (We Discover Costa Rica)

No Está Pesado (It Ain’t Heavy)

¿Has Visto La Ballena Blanca? (Hast Seen the White Whale?)

 Cuidar Para Nuestra Común Casa (Caring For Our Common Home)

La Vida Óptima (Optimal Living)

A five-part series of posts featured a blog travelogue of our 3,500-mile road trip through eight western states. The illustrated series (with 49 photos) starts with Wild West Road Trip: The First 1,000, which includes links to the other parts.

This year, the next chapter began a new series that will continue indefinitely. The first of three installments published in TNC’s third year, In a Strange Land: One, appeared in October. The Strange Land series is unlike anything that has appeared before on this blog. The series  is semi-fictional quasi-realism. It is experimental writing, deeply personal and yet freely fictitious. It reveals through a scrim of plausible deniability that conceals more than meets the eye.

Three posts this year stand outside any category. In March, Becoming Neil considered what might have been Neil’s ethical will, had he written one. Neil is one of the characters in Jane Anderson’s The Quality of Life, and I had the privilege of playing the role on stage this year. In September, Bless Ed Bee examined the puzzling practice of blessing things. A Thanksgiving Story, posted on Thanksgiving Day, explained why this year I am thankful for strangers.

I am thankful for the strangers, as well as the friends, who have read the next chapter this year. There are more than 30,000 of you! I hope that you find something in the next chapter that makes you want to visit here again.

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