As we get older, longevity becomes, depending on our health, something wished for or something we are willing to relinquish. One grows tired…
People ask me what I do all day. When I tell them that I do whatever I want whenever I want, they don’t seem to comprehend the words, or the idea of freedom of choice or movement. They ask me: “But WHAT do you do?” I had been mollifying them (anyone asking a question like that either does not know the true meaning of retirement [two words] or of life after working for most of their life) by going through a list of my daily activities, which I will not bore you with at this time. I am not going to do that anymore. My mollifying days are over. My vicious side is becoming dominant and I refuse to explain my lifestyle to anyone who probably would not understand it anyway.
I remember many people asking me, when I was getting ready to retire in Asia after having been retired in Annapolis, MD for a couple of years, what I was going to do in Asia. I didn’t know, and told them that. Next they asked me how I could go live abroad without knowing what I was going to “DO”.
That is not just any two letter word. Do usually refers to an action, particularly in the sense they were asking. I wondered why they thought someone had to do something. I lived as much of my life as possible trying to avoid situations where I HAD to do something, and believe me, going to college was a real challenge when one tried to avoid HAVING to do something like attend class, study, turn in papers by a due date, or not study something that the Prof said you HAD to learn. Avoiding these MUSTS and HAVE-TOs took creativity and ingenuity if I must say so myself. It also led to new and interesting paths on my track to attain a degree. I met new people, experienced new environments, learned a LOT about things I never even was aware of. It was FUN!
It wasn’t always easy. I ended up taking a class in Shakespeare three times, but I enjoyed each instructors different presentation and learned things I never would have known if I had read and learned King Lear. Fun! I really learned about the beginning of the US Postal Service and it’s contribution to Aviation (or was it the other way around?) much better than if, despite the Professor’s threat to downgrade one grade for each day the paper was late, I didn’t hand it in 3 weeks past the due date and still manage to eake out a B. I’m almost as proud of that B as I am of the C I got in Economics when I only attended the first day of class and came back on the day of the final exam. In the non-attending days I learned tons about writing for a newspaper, playing Hearts, and Fair Play for Cuba. Those are certainly more valuable than attending a course where the questions on the final exam are the same every year and only the answers change.
So, the point is that doing what I wanted when I wanted has always opened new horizons and gave me a good idea of what was on the other side of the mountain. That, by the by, is the title of my next novel. It is the quest I was inspired to undertake when I was a two year old kid playing in the gravel driveway of an Albuquerque motel with my green wheelbarrow and shovel. We were there visiting my uncle who was in Bombardier School shortly after the beginning of WW Two, and I looked up at the mountains and wondered: “What’s on the other side?” I used to walk on the beach in Miami but come to think of it, I never wondered what was on the other side of the ocean. Only when I first saw the Pacific Ocean did I again ask myself: “What’s on the other side?” I went to Japan in the late 90s and have been returning to this side ever since. Now that I live in Viet Nam I have a good idea. My itch to know is still there, but it is much more localized. My time and physical strength are much more limited, and I’m happy to see what’s happening here and learning the customs of these fascinating 56 tribes that make up Viet Nam.
So, I am content. I do what when. You should try it–you might like it!