Monday, June 28, 2010


Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of my 'retirement' from 20-plus years of newspaper work. What, if anything, have I learned?

-- I've learned that the retirement stories that appear in newspapers are largely eyewash that don't even begin to scratch the surface of the human adventure ... but then that's true of a lot of other stories that pass as news.

-- I've seen more doctors in a year than I had in the previous ten.

-- I've learned, like all aging people, that things tend to slip away. Only it doesn't feel that way to me. To me it feels more like a surprise at how much I imagined and assumed I could be attached to with any concrete foundation. Work, for example, took up eight hours a day and was implicitly important. "Important" just means I think I am important. But in any case, work was a long-term habit, just as remembering the days of the week was a long-term habit. Long-term habits don't stop overnight, but they do demand some attention and revision.

-- More bad news is less astounding.

-- Relying on others, while odd, is possible.

-- Although they don't say so, I think my aging bores and frightens my children, much as I suppose it once bored and frightened me. I have become, in some sense, what I feared and it's not that interesting.

-- The innocence that once marked youth is as much in evidence when aging: What the hell, you've never done this before either. What was shattered in youth is likely to be shattered with age.

-- The Hindus -- somewhere or other -- have a timeline that marks a life: In youth, we play and learn; in our twenties-plus, we work and raise the children; and in old age, we devote ourselves to spiritual life. As generalizations go, I suppose it's OK. But the same slip-sliding effect that has marked other aspects of aging and retirement has also affected spiritual fervor as well.

-- When someone says "keep busy," my question is, "why?"

-- I do miss people of a similar fabric ... people to whom you can tell the punch line of a dirty joke without telling the whole joke. Or people who have the timeline for the Revolutionary and the Civil wars straight in their minds.

-- Convincing others becomes less and less convincing, no matter how loud the volume or how sincere the effort.

-- I also miss people who can reflect on their own arguments and try to see that what is right can also be terribly wrong ... and vice versa.

-- As Mark Twain once remarked on how much smarter his father became as Twain grew from 14 to 21, so it sometimes seems that I am on the opposite trajectory when it comes to younger souls. Still, I do try to keep my mouth shut about it.

.... and there is probably other stuff as well, but I can't think of it just now.


  1. I too have noticed of late that gap between youth and my own relative oldness(as my daughter calls it). A student at my work has taken on the task of teaching herself the ukulele. I commented on Tiny Tim(not being a connoisseur of tiny guitars and not knowing anyone else that played the instrument)and was rewarded with such a confused and bewildered look, Oh well.

  2. BD -- Thanks for the Tiny Tim reminder ... good for a smile. What an odd duck he was. :)

  3. It's been one year .. hmm, it seemed longer to me.

    Smile one more smile :)