Wow. I turned 66 this year. I can smell my impending 50th high school reunion and I’ve long passed my 40th college. I founded an arts council 33 years ago. George Orwell and I started a business 31 years ago. It’s six years since I shaved my head. A year since I qualified for Medicare. A day since I reached “full retirement age.”
Today is Monday, July 20, the 201st day of 2015. On this day 46 years ago, astronaut Neil Armstrong took one small step …
I’ve had an epiphany. I don’t want to retire. Mostly.
My mom had a real problem when I turned forty. “How can a 39-year-old woman have a 40-year-old son,” she asked me. My own son mentioned that he’s just eight years from retirement.
My mom was about my age now when she stepped out on Gay Street in West Chester and darned near got run over by a cab.
“The headline in the Daily Lack of News flashed before my eyes,” she told me: “‘Elderly woman smushed by hack’.”
I don’t like the idea that this is middle age, let alone geezerhood, this time when before a hard day of yard work my manly brain feels like 40 and after a hard day of yard work my manly body feels like 80. I suppose it’s justified.
Or maybe I just need some exercise. I almost put “more” there, but I am supposed to be a teller of truths.
I need to plan for my mid-life crisis.
I’m getting stale in my job and in the arts council. When I ran for the Legislature, I campaigned for term limits. Staleness was one of the reasons I gave.
So I’m making lists. Lists of the things I want to do, lists of the things I don’t, and lists of the things that would be fun but I won’t. It’s interesting (to me) that the lists seem to have stuff that belongs on a resume, rather than stuff that belongs on a tombstone. I don’t know what’s up with that. One interesting exercise is over here in the form of a “did ya do it” list.
The BIG chunk of my life that I spent goofing off in school, hanging around noisy greasy places like race tracks, and pursuing wanton women–usually shamelessly and usually unrequitedly–was only a single decade.
A long time ago I discovered that my ideal job was to be paid (handsomely) to sit around being a Very Smart Person. People in my company (and even others) could seek me out and pose questions. After appropriate rumination, I would — in Carnac-brilliance — provide answers. A Fortune 500 company is the best place to have that happen. Big companies or even divisions of same have the necessary support staffs to keep a smart person looking smart.
I do sit around now being a Very Smart Person. People do seek me out and pose questions. And after rumination, I do provide answers with appropriate fanfare. I guess the down side, and the reason this job is not satisfying enough, is that I am also the support staff required to keep this smart person looking smart. Google has become a lifeline.
Although that is still my ideal, I haven’t found a Fortune 500 willing to provide the desk. Of course, the search might go faster if I actually, well, looked.
It’s still up there on my list.
FUN BUT I WON’Ts
Race cars. Probably not even vintage. BTDT. Have the Nomex long johns. They still fit. If I stretch them a little.
Get a pilot’s license. Can’t afford it.
Race boats. That’s like racing cars in three dimensions.
Plenty of examples but really just one category. I went south last fall and discovered I needed to repair my roof. I came north this spring and discovered I needed to replace the water heater and fix the lawnmower.
The category? Home repairs. BTDT. I’d like to retire from that.
DON’T WON’T NOT EVERs
Twenty-mumble years ago, I ran for the state legislature. I still like the idea of telling people what to do, but the gamesmanship has gotten worse and it just doesn’t interest me today.
Work at Walmart.
Work in a factory. Been there, done that, have the scars.
WOT TO DO, WOT TO DO
It’s time for a little shift. I’ve been putting more emphasis on the commercial side of my photography so I have an online gallery and everything, but you can still buy a photo from me direct. And I’ll keep on telling stories. And solving universal questions like why can’t we teach kids to do math.
My big epiphany is pretty simple. Like most folks, I’ve found that the things I don’t want to do keep getting in the way of the things I do. I need a support staff so here’s your chance.
HELP WANTED: Support staffer able to raise enough business to keep me in the guru seat and the rest of the staff employed.
The Proust Questionnaire
I believe Marcel Proust answered these questions every five years:
• what do you consider your greatest achievement?
• what is your idea of perfect happiness?
• what is your current state of mind?
• what is your favorite occupation?
• what is your most treasured possession?
• what or who is the greatest love of your life?
• what is your favorite journey?
• what is your most marked characteristic?
• when and where were you the most happiest?
• what is it that you most dislike?
• what is your greatest fear?
• what is your greatest extravagence?
• which living person do you most despise?
• what is your greatest regret?
• which talent would you most like to have?
• where would you like to live?
• what do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
• what is the quality you most like in a man?
• what is the quality you most like in a woman?
• what is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
• what is the trait you most deplore in others?
• what do you most value in your friends?
• who is your favorite hero of fiction?
• who are your heroes in real life?
• which living person do you most admire?
• what do you consider the most overrated virtue?
• on what occasions do you lie?
• which words or phrases do you most overuse?
• if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
• what are your favorite names?
• how would you like to die?
• if you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
• what is your motto?