Tag Archives: blogs

Dipping Into the Thought Stream

I am starting into my third year of retirement and the second year of this blog. I have been thinking about both things this week, and there are commonalities. I feel like a beginner, still, at both retirement and blogging. Perhaps the most amazing thing about retirement so far is how quickly the first two years have gone. I suppose that sensation–the quickness with which time passes in retrospect–is not characteristic of retirement alone but of my whole life.  Someone asked me yesterday how it was going. Pretty well, I think I said, or something like that. The days get filled, and for the most part, they are enjoyable. Though I could list various projects completed during the first two years of my retirement, I have not accomplished Great Things. I guess that I have been assuming all along that accomplishing Great Things is not the point of retirement. Putting that thought aside for the moment, what do I want to say about blogging today?

The monumental insight of the week is that blogging is a new medium of expression–new in the sense that it did not exist before the Internet came into being. I suppose one could google the birth of blogging and come up with a date. In any case, it is a medium of expression that did not exist in my childhood or in my father’s lifetime. It is a medium different from essay-writing or journalism. It is a medium that I have not used very effectively so far, but I feel a potential there. It is something that I might yet get better at. My own critique of my blog-writing during the past year is that my posts have been too long–too many words, too many paragraphs. A measure of blog-writing success, I think, is the number of readers and the number of comments from readers. By that measure, this blog has failed miserably. Maybe half a dozen people find their way to my blog in any given month, and comments have been nearly non-existent. One reason, I believe, is the long-form posts that this blog has published so far. My series on the immigration issue is an example of reasonably-good and reasonably-concise writing–for a magazine article–that falls flat in the blog medium–flat and unread. Part 1 of the series reached 68 paragraphs, which may be the peak for this blog. Parts 2, 3 and 4 were shorter but still well beyond the medium’s sweet spot.

The other criticisms that have floated in my mind this week are that my blog-writing lacks spontaneity and personality. I have labored long over each of my posts this past year. They have been written out and edited and revisited many times before reaching the posting page. Such well-digested thought does not seem to work well in the blogging medium. The lack of “personality” is the missing personal voice in many, but not all, of my posts. I have chosen to be relatively anonymous in this blog. Readers who know me already know perfectly well who I am, but I have had no interest in disclosing certain details about my personal life to the world at large. Anyone who feels offended by my shyness in this regard may, if they choose, reach out to inquire about me via email (talktome@latercomma.com) or by leaving a comment (see the “Leave a comment” link at the bottom of each post). Personal details about who I am, however, are not what I really mean by a shortness of personality in my blog-writing to date. I want my blog to have a personal voice even in my anonymity.

Personality is closely related to point of view, but different. The final self-critique of the week is that I need to work on expressing my point of view in my blog-writing, in addition to expressing it with personality, spontaneity, and brevity. Astute readers–and I assume all six of you are such–will have gleaned something of my point of view from my posts on immigration, health care in the U.S., and, of course, retirement. My blog has barely begun to scratch the surface of my point of view on so many things that are going on around me. This is a difficult task for me–to express my point of view in a readable fashion. Part of the difficulty is in deciding where to begin. If I write first about the tortuous system of health care, does that give the impression (wrongly) that health care is all that I care about, or the most important issue of the day in my point of view? I set out to say something about health care and something about immigration in my posts during 2014 because those issues are important, in my view, and there are things that I want to say about them, but, no, they are not the only issues that I think about or care about or have a point of view about. Take, for example, this morning’s paper, which reports that the Republicans who are running the House have voted to permanently forbid the use of federal funds (my tax dollars, in part) for most abortion coverage. The perceived evil here is federal funding, not abortion, which remains acceptable as long as you can afford it. This vote was apparently a weighty compromise for many of the Congressmen, who had wanted a bill to flat-out ban late-term abortions. Speaker Boehner announced that we should “rejoice” the vote to ban taxpayer funding of abortion. I do not rejoice. I sigh deeply and wonder if the Congress does not have more important things to work on. Those who claim to believe in the sanctity of life and the rights of the “unborn” (and undead) would sanctify unplanned and unwanted pregnancy and would believe it “right” to deny a woman the right to make a sensible, rational and mature decision about childbearing–from my point of view.

Moving along, I will try to improve my blog-writing in the year ahead. To that end, my benchmark will be to limit the length of my posts to five paragraphs. I have already cheated a bit on that resolve in this post, which is indeed five paragraphs but which has some fat paragraphs that “better” writing would divide into shorter, more diet-conscious morsels. I will also practice writing directly to the posting page, instead of laboring over off-line drafts, and I will work to infuse my writing with more personality and point of view. I will embark upon this blog-writing experiment, knowing that it will inevitably produce posts that can only begin to express my thoughts and that sometimes cut short a new thought in the middle…

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Some other stuff for later,

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    I am annoyed with Donald Trump.  Not merely annoyed, I have come to the conclusion that the man is hazardous to my health.  It’s getting so I am apprehensive about waking up in the morning to hear NPR bring me news of the latest atrocity committed by Mr. Trump’s administration.…
  • 53
    On March 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself “from matters with the Trump campaign,” including investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The announcement came after news reports that Sessions had spoken with the Russian ambassador at least twice during the campaign. Sessions…
  • 52
    Presidential contender Jeb Bush has said that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t work and is “flawed to its core.” He supports improving the quality of health care and lowering costs by applying “free market principles.” Bush’s official website describes a three-part plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace…

Looking Back

I started this blog a year ago (November 29, 2013), almost one year after beginning my retirement on January 1, 2013. In that first post, right after Thanksgiving 2013, I said that I felt fortunate that I could choose to retire, and I am still thankful for that.

In my first post to this blog, I said that I did not like the word “retirement” because it seemed negative and “an absence of something…rather than something positive or affirmative.” I described myself as being “in transition” as I tried to figure out what retirement would mean for me.

A year has gone by, and I still have the sensation of “transition” and of not quite knowing where I am. I do not miss the daily grind of a paying job. I have kept myself busy. I am contributing more volunteer time than was possible before my retirement began. I think I have made a positive difference in many small ways in the world around me. Retirement still carries the connotation of an ebbing tide, yet my own retirement has begun to reveal affirmative qualities. One affirmative quality is the opportunity to do more giving of my time. When work claimed a larger share of my weekly allotment of hours, I had a limited supply of time available to give. Retirement has expanded the supply.

In my second post, I said that retirement felt like a never-ending weekend. Before I retired, my weekends were often filled with household chores. The need to attend to various household repairs and improvement projects continues into retirement—only the work does not have to be crammed into the weekends. Household chores and projects are not always a fun way to spend the weekend—nor a never-ending weekend—but getting projects done provides a small feeling of accomplishment. And small accomplishments add up to something positive to add to the retirement ledger.

In that second post, I commented that retirement means freeing oneself from the curse of Monday Morning Dread, that nagging apprehension that comes on a Sunday when you have to be at work on Monday morning. Even after retiring, I had pangs of phantom MMD. These days, I no longer suffer from phantom MMD, which may mean that I am finally becoming adjusted to retirement.

These days, I am more likely to lose track of what day it is. I used to think that if an older person did not know what day it was, he must be losing it mentally. But now I am more inclined to think that losing track of what day of the week it happens to be may be a sign of improved health and wisdom.

Retirement guilt was the subject of my third blog post. I mused about whether I should have continued my working career instead of retiring at a relatively young 63 years of age. Although I could have continued working, it would not have brought me any greater satisfaction. Looking back, I think that I accomplished the most that I could have accomplished in my job. The work environment had begun to change in ways that did not feel supportive. It is better to have left when I did, rather than to hang on for a few more years at the risk of becoming embittered. I have not felt any sense of retirement guilt lately.

I am learning to celebrate retirement, instead.

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Some other stuff for later,

  • 76
    This post explores the meaning of work in the context of successful aging and is inspired by the information found on a website of the same name. It is a follow-up to my earlier post: Successful Aging. In physics, work is done when a force applied to an object moves…
  • 67
    Now We Are SixThis day marks the sixth anniversary of this blog (with apologies to A.A. Milne).  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I started this collection of random writings.  The anniversary is just one more reminder that time seems shorter looking back – well, not shorter, but certainly quicker.  The truth…
  • 65
    In Remembering Anticipation, I talked about the first phase of retirement. Robert Atchley is generally credited with describing the unfolding of retirement as a series of phases. Atchley called the first phase “pre-retirement.” Because pre-retirement occurs before actual retirement begins, one is tempted to quibble whether it is a phase…