How can I reinvent myself after 70 years on the planet?
I find myself involuntarily, semi-retired after about 40 years in one business where I knew the rules, I knew what I had to do, I knew what I was relatively good at and I got feedback. Now, there are no rules, nobody telling me that I’m worthwhile or not worthwhile, for that matter, and I have no road map to show me how to feel useful and to have dignity and to have a purpose.
As the external guideposts have been removed, I have to rely on some internal movement to guide me. Oh boy.
I don’t know what to do and I am starting on a new search. Isn’t that great, starting a new search at my age? Normally, people start searching at a time when they have a lot of time so that by the time they don’t have a lot of time, they have finished searching. I want to strangle all the clocks so I can finish my work of finding a reason for being here.
People have told me I think too much. Well that’s getting even worse. I think about my life’s meaning a lot these days because I have a lot of time to think. I think about the Buddhist who contemplates, that’s all he does, all day, every day, he contemplates and meditates. I would think that after a while even a Buddhist runs out of things to contemplate, such as his navel.
Is it my fate to spend hours sitting in the backyard with my binoculars around my neck so I can get up close to the birds that visit the feeder while I contemplate and I wait for the day to end so I can contemplate the night and go to sleep? Sometimes I try to contemplate or meditate and I just fall asleep hoping that one day I will be reincarnated into the person who knows all things or maybe an eagle so I can fly all around in a constant search for food.
I could become an expert on baseball and write a book about the strange and mysterious things that ballplayers do to increase their amazing, otherworldly abilities. God, that is scintillating. But think how rewarding and self-fulfilling it would be to know the earned run averages of all the pitchers and the fastest pitch ever and to spread that information to all who were interested.
Maybe I should take up a hobby, like woodworking or maybe I should take an on-line course in cartography or buy an old Model T and refurbish it. Maybe I should read more books so that I can understand more about the world. It’s probably too late to become fluent in several languages and anyway, why would I want to become fluent in several languages?
For that matter, I’ve never been good at woodworking. In shop class in high school we had to make three-legged stools. But I couldn’t get the legs the right height and I had to cut one leg, then the other leg, then the other leg until the stool was two feet tall and basically worthless.
And as far as auto repair, one time I remember stripping the head of the spark plug and having to take it to a repair shop to have it removed.
I could become an exercise fanatic but maybe that’s not wise for a man of my age. Anyway, the gyms are closed because of the COVID 19 pandemic. I used to work out a lot and I thought about what aliens would think if they arrived and saw all these people lifting heavy things for hours on end.
When you get older, you lose the luxury to procrastinate ad nauseam because you don’t have the time to waste. And yet, finding that thing to do and not to procrastinate over is not easy. It’s not even easy to understand what I just wrote.
It is more than a bit ironic that at this late stage in life, I am still trying to understand who I am and why I am and what I want to do and be when I grow up. I hate to think about it but maybe I will never get the answers. Maybe this is it, knowing that there are no answers and plugging away anyway, whatever that means and being happy knowing that while there is a reason, I will never know it and feeling drugged all the time.
Monte Python explained it best in “The Meaning of Life.” A group of fish in a fish tank at a fancy restaurant are swimming together when they look at the customers outside of the tank and see their friend, Howard, being eaten. This leads them to question the meaning of life.
At the end, the host of middle of the film reads from an envelope containing the meaning of life. She says it’s “nothing very special” and reads in a very bland manner, “Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”
I can do that.
Or maybe Melania Trump has the answers. She will be revising the White House rose garden. Melania always has a contented look on her face or is that the look of an empty vessel.
Sorry for the Trump segue, but it happens whenever I think a lot about the meaning of life.