Old …

Last Friday I had the “retirement” chat with a work colleague who I’ve known for many years. He is a year or so older than me (I’m 52) and he is pretty keen to retire in the next couple of years. I told him that I too would like to, but didn’t really think that I was in a financial position to do so. He is very much of the opinion that you shouldn’t worry too much about the financial side of it, that you don’t really need that much to live off, and that you should try and enjoy life when you still can.

About an hour after this discussion, the same colleague walked into my office with a retractable measuring tape in his hand. This is an approximation of the conversation.

Him: How old do you reckon you are going to live until?
Me: I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it.
Him: Let’s say 80.
He pulls the measuring tape out to the 80cm marker, and gets me to hold that end.
Him: Now, you’re 52, right?
He marks the 52cm point on the tape.
Him: Now, this is how much you’ve had (indicating the 0-52cm stretch).
Him: And, this is how much you’ve got left (indicating the 52-80cm stretch).
Me: You trying to depress me or something?
Him: No, I just think we need to take advantage of what we’ve got, while we still can.

You know what, he’s right.

Today we went over to my brother’s place to celebrate my dad’s 79th birthday. Both he and mum are both starting to get quite frail and mum especially is starting to struggle with her memory too. Old age is really quite frightening.

Today made me think again that my work colleague was right. We need to try and live every day to the maximum we can. That is what I’m thinking now, but I’m betting it isn’t really going to change much, the next 5 days will be spent at a place I’m not really enjoying being at much, just so the money keeps coming in to pay the bills, then there’ll be two days off where I’ll probably do very similar things I did yesterday and today, and 10 years will slip away before I know it, and then it really will be time to retire.

That is depressing.

Another thing that is depressing is that there is always something to paint. Last week I finished painting the exterior of the house. Today I started painting the front fence and the wrought iron railing around our front step.

Just a home workout tonight. I really meant to get up and go for a long ride this morning, but as so often happens the morning mojo deserted me. Now that daylight saving has ended I really am going to have to make better use of the mornings.

Edit: Listening to some Pink Floyd as I write this, Time from DSOTM was playing as I was proof reading this post, as I’m reading it David Gilmour is singing this,

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Freaky, and not helping the depressing thoughts.


13 Responses to “Old …”

  1. chrisfit2009 Says:

    That’s just freaky. I had that exact same conversation with a guy at work too. Except my tape measure went to 140cm. I almost had a heart attack when I realised I now have left than 75% of my life left!

  2. katsmumblings Says:

    Wow, your post has made me depressed too. You need to be happy. It doesn’t mean you need to make huge changes… maybe find a new job that you like and makes you feel good. You once said you would like to teach (if I remember right) maybe do some part time.

  3. Em Says:

    Sunday night blues, I hear you loud and clear. I think it’s all very romantic to just go do what you love but the reality is very different isn’t it, sadly.

    Working from home one day a week is currently saving my sanity!

  4. sassydrcil Says:

    do a PT/nutrition course. Wind down the work if you can (do it part time).
    You will be brilliant.
    You can specialise in baby boomers and create a niche.
    Then when I make my “ageing well” business, you can come and work with me πŸ™‚
    Seriously, man, I have already thought about this.
    You can specialise in ageing well.

  5. sassydrcil Says:

    life is too dang short.

  6. Kath (My Funny Little Life) Says:

    What a strange coincidence that you just listened to that song while typing this!

    I’m younger than you (28), so it may sound funny that I comment something here. It’s true that I’m not at an age when the topic of the approching “end” is usually salient, but I have thought a lot about the presumed finity of life, and also had some experiences of (almost) dying or at least suffering to a degree that I wondered if it was worth to live on. Existential borderline experiences, so to say. (Boo, I sound pathetic, but I don’t want to! 😦 I’m just writing this to let you know where I’m coming from. I’m not writing mindless blubblubblubb. ;))

    My mom is a meditation teacher, so I’ve grown up with a mixture of western and eastern style of thinking. I’ve always been a spiritual person, and later on, I devloped a strong interest in eastern philosophy. When I did cultural studies (before psychology which I’m studying now), I learned not to take for granted what we’re used to – in our western societies (which still are, although they’ve become rather secular, genuinely shaped by monotheistic religion, namely the Judaic-Christian tradition), this would be the concept of linearity of time, for example. And while I believe that every moment is truly unique, I think that time rather runs in circles, and that life goes like that, as well. I believe in rebirth, for example, and this is why I’m not afraid of death in the sense of non-existence. Rather, I think death is just and episode of rest that is followed by a new life again.

    However, I *am* uncomfortable with thought of the negative side-effects of aging – the idea of becoming seriously ill and struggling through every minute of the day (I’ve been there for several years, and I don’t want to be there again), or gradually losing the clarity of my mind and noticing how it happens, honestly scares me. But I don’t think that has to happen necessarily. As much as I know from you, I think that you care really well for yourself, and you also seem to be surrounded by people who like you or even love you – your family and friends.

    Another thing that plays a role in this whole issue is the meaningfulness of your life. If you feel you’re living for something, and life takes you somewhere, I believe that you don’t have to be afraid of death so much, because when you look back on the years you’ve lived, you’ll see that you’ve done a lot of good things and made a lot of valuable experiences. As I said above, I believe in mulitiple lives, and I think that the purpose of living them is to learn and grow as a person. I won’t be finished with that in this life, so I’ll go on with it in the next one. At the end of it, I believe, is enlightenment / satori (in Buddhism) / becoming one with nature, however you call it – the state when you not only intellectually, but intuitively realize that all things and all living beings are tied to each other and all seperations and limitations are just illusionary. In that state, you’ll understand the laws of nature and see that time doesn’t matter at all. I mean, the duration of my life is just a blink of an eye in the life of the universe. πŸ™‚

    I like how you wrote about living life to the fullest, in every single moment. You can’t always do that, but it’s a good thing to keep it in mind. Perhaps you’ll feel the last warmth of the autumn sun on your face when you’re painting the next part of the fence, and take a moment to close your eyes and smile.

    Have a happy day and a good start into the week! πŸ™‚

  7. kathryn Says:

    My unsolicted advice is to find something you enjoy about those 5 days. Focus on the good things at work, not the bad. Even if you made a career change, you are going to be sticking around for a while so make those days count. From what you’ve said on your blog, you seem to be really good at and enjoy nurturing the talent of your team so that’s one thing you could focus on πŸ™‚

  8. Miz Says:

    wow (POINTS UPWARD) what kathryn said.

    shes wise.

  9. twocatz Says:

    Fire someone. It never fails in making my day go well lol

    Seriously I think the older we get the more appealing the idea of retirement becomes, however I know that I would be at home for 2 or 3 days and would be scouring the job pages to find something to do.

  10. deege Says:

    I think in this day and age it is more acceptable to measure our success differently. There is a subtle pressure for those in certain types of jobs which says that there is a certain way of approaching career. I work in one of those jobs too. Recently we have had a couple of ‘career’ people intentionally adjust their work life balance (in both cases to go four days). They negotiated with us adjusted position descriptions and in our case budgets and it was clear that dropping a day wasn’t just going to be an excuse to slide on responsibilities. In both cases they feel better about their careers overall and more excited about them (and more productive).

  11. Murray Hill Says:

    Gee I enjoy reading your blog Andrew.

    Perhaps it is your calling? I very much doubt that anything else that you have taken on in your life has had as much effect on as many people as your blog has.

    You are so honest with what you say, and so diligent about blogging regularly.

    Keep up the good work.


  12. Ewen Says:

    Geez, I worry when I see a comment that’s longer than the original post .)

    The ruler test is sobering. But I heard someone say on the radio today that their father just got his drivers’ license renewed at the age of 95 – so he’ll be still driving at 97. I just hope he’s in a newer car than the one you were driving .)

  13. acuriouspursuit Says:

    I forgot where I read this, I can never keep track of what I’ve read, but I’ve kept it stored away in my noggin’ for years:

    There was a man that was in a similar situation. He was feeling depressed about his life and how little time he had left. One day he calculated if he lived to 80 then he would have X number of weeks left. If you live to 80 (which is highly likely given your health consciousness) that means you have 1,404 more weeks of life (Note: I don’t know when your birthday is so I went with 53 so not to under-calculate.)

    The man got a large jar and filled it with X number of marbles (or items of your choice), in your case, this would be 1,404. Every week he then proceeded to take one marble out of the jar and throw it away. He didn’t do this as a means to depress himself but to remind himself that his time was limited and each moment was precious, so he chose to live consciously and fully. And, when he ran out of marbles and lived beyond what he had though he found even more joy and appreciation in living.

    It all reminds me to lyrics from a song (again, no idea where it’s from): “Everyone dies but only a few people live.” And it’s true, regardless of how much ‘time’ you have left what counts is ‘how’ you live it.

    I’m unsure if that helps at all, that’s how I see it though.

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