Being Of Value??

TL Banner   Sometimes I struggle with understanding why there are apparently so many people who complain so much about our economy. I see where personal income in the last year showed the biggest improvement in decades and the unemployment rate is at 4.9% which is the lowest in forty years.  So, why is there so much dissatisfaction around?

Being retired for 16+ years now I admit that I don’t know much about the current job market other than what I read. I know that full lifetime employment is pretty much a thing of the past for many and that the average person will change jobs seven times during their working life. I also know that except for very small businesses assembly line jobs have disappeared. Without those mind-numbing jobs people right out of high school have trouble finding any form of lucrative employment.

Being without some schooling beyond high school means a lifetime of minimum wage and often short term employment. One of the biggest obstacles to getting that education, especially among the lower middle class and below, is the every increasing costs of continuing education. I am hopeful, thanks to Bernie Sanders that when Hillary is president she will try do what is necessary to make educational opportunities affordable to all. That is if the GOP don’t fight it tooth and nail as they have in the past. I know… I am a dreamer..

Then there is another segment of our society for whatever reason have not kept up with the times by upgrading their employment skills. They see the world moving beyond them. Some in this mode go into the permanent  complain mode. I think these are the real base for the Trump campaign. How many of them there are we will soon know.

Now I want to change gears a little in order to try to understand why so many are so angry at our current systems. In order to do that I want to draw a link between these folks and my personal experiences with being retired and the process that led up to where I am at today. Before I retired I was often recognized at a valuable member of a large engineering organization. I provided software tools, they are called apps nowadays, to hundreds of design engineers and was sought out for my knowledge and advice. Then I abruptly retired when a Hong Kong business bought out our division and quickly began to dissemble it.

2016-10-24_08-43-45.pngI went from “the valuable member” to the opposite in a flash. The only person who I had any amount of contact with in those early retirement years that was my wife and she didn’t recognize my skills as being particularly valuable to her. I immediately lost value. I went into a state of depression.  I was in the “poor me” mode to some degree for more than three years. I just didn’t see that I was doing more than sucking air. Is this where so many Trump supporter reside?  I can only guess.

It took a while but I finally found a place outside the home that seemed to value my life and that was volunteering in a local soup kitchen/shelter.  I spent the next eleven years there. I was valuable once again.

2016-10-24_08-47-31.pngI can see the parallels between this and the people currently complaining about their life situations. They just want to feel they have value. They want someone to pay attention to them.  They feel unappreciated. Many in this mode, need to get off their “Poor me” attitudes and do something about it. If you want to feel valuable you must “do” something valuable and that takes work. There are no simple solutions to it… or most other things in life…

That is the way I see it….

Never Get A Day Off…

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After some serious adjustments in my thinking I kind of find myself frequently asking what day it is. Without the job to define my life, each day seems to fold into the next. Holidays are just another day to us retired folks, especially those of us without any children or grandchildren for visits….

I am generally one of those who struggle to get through this time of year but not so much this year.  Maybe the warm weather is helping… maybe it was the 5 million lights at Branson recently.. Fa La La

Making Sense of Change…

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When I came across the quote above I knew nothing of Alan W. Watts.  But, as usual I got on Wiki to learn more. This guy was quite a character in life.  It just seemed that once he was doing something for any extended period of time he got bored with it an moved on to something else. It seems he re-invented himself a dozen times in his 58 years of life.

Here is a quote from one of the reviewers of his autobiography In My Own Way on Amazon.

Early on, he set out to be an independent intellectual, constantly learning and living in his “own way.” He succeeded, in spite of the odds, on the terms that he set out for himself. This was deeply inspiring to me, and it turned out that despite the surface differences of interest, Alan Watts had a lot to say about the choices one makes in life and how to go about living.

I like to think of myself, rightly or not that I am also an independent intellectual who likes to live life on my own terms. But my life is nothing like his.  I spent thirty years in the corporate world as an engineer. I just didn’t have the courage to admit that I probably should have chosen another path.  By the time I realized that fact I deemed it too late to do anything about it.  I was happy to just serve out my time until I could draw a full pension (yeah I actually get a monthly check from my previous employer).  It was not until I walked away from that life that I discovered my true self.

The term retirement is to me an archaic word that doesn’t really apply to the third trimester of life. This period is more about opportunities than retiring from life.  As I just said I like to think of myself  living my “own way” but I was a late-bloomer in that regard.  I have a lot of catching up to do. :)  I have been in this mode for over fifteen years now and having a ball!

Living your “own way” meaning no longer just going with the flow.  It means taking the time to form your own opinions and then acting on them. No more just sitting back and whining. It often means going against the grain of other people’s norms. Living blue in a very red State I feel I am often going against the grain:

  • Where so much of our world, and especially our country, is living in fear I am stubbornly try to do the opposite. I will simply not give these terrorists the satisfaction of being afraid.
  • I see love where others, including my previous self, often see fear and sometimes even hate.
  • I see the words of Jesus as an action item list for my life and not just something that I hear in a pew on Sunday morning and then forget for the rest of the week.

Living your “own way” is not easy sometimes but it sure does give you more satisfaction…

I have an Alan Watts book now on my reading list. It will be interesting to learn more about him and probably myself in the process.

 

No More Lists…

ListsMy month-long hiatus from blogging a while back was more than just blogging. I pretty much ceased all my normal daily activity in favor of just doing what I felt like doing. Some days it was vegging out and some it was all day in the barn working on my micro-RV project of the last three years. And of course given that it was Spring, which is my favorite time of year, it was about sitting on my “mountain” and enjoying the view. One of the primary things I gave up during this period was keeping lists of my activity.

I will admit that this hiatus was brought on by a fairly strong feelings of depression. I was just too mired in the current times of fear and politics. Getting rid of that annoyance was a boon for my emotional state. Another surprising thing that boosted my contentment was that I stopped making my usual daily lists. I know this sounds kind of strange but hear me out.

All my life I have been a list maker. I still have almost a thousand 5×7 cards that I used in my work life to record what I needed to do each week. When desktop computers came in that list moved there and the cards were assigned to the back of a desk drawer. When I retired from the corporate world in 2000 I brought list making with me and have done it continuously until now. I think at some levels, at least to me, I rationalize that it shows me that I am a productive member of the human race. I gauged my worthiness by the length of the list. I have now discovered that his forty-year old habit is stifling my retirement years!

In retirement your time is your own for perhaps the first time in your life.  I discovered that keeping long lists at this point in my life is accomplishing little. It may even lead to depression at times. It doesn’t matter whether I spend four hours getting just the right close-up photo of a flower or even binge watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. I finally convinced myself that my time is my own now and to  spend it doing things that make me happy in the moment and not fretting so much about what is happening out in the world. So, from here on out, it is goodbye to lists to justify my existence.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Anybody out there have any other suggestions for letting go of the past in order to just enjoy your retirement moments???