Of retirement and death

All I long for, all I have longed for for years is to retire (prior to wanting to retire, my ambition was to play). Given a chance not to work, I would take it. However, this is not because of laziness or some inherent trait of sloth. Rather it is because I want to pursue my own interests and ideas; I want to do my own thing.

One of the saddest things I find in talking with people about not working (aside from obvious disapproval) is that they like working, they would get bored not working, after all, there is only so much TV one can watch. Hmmm ... a pretty sad comment I think.

I have a mind full of ideas. There are lots of things which grab my interest, which distract me as I journey through life. Finding what I want to do is hard., because every week I can have a new thing I want to pursue. Some might argue that I am not disciplined. Definitely, I am a poor finisher - great starter, but lousy finisher.

I believe I have found what my ideal job would be: owning and running an incubator company. A company whose sole purpose is the production of ideas, of concepts, of working out the tricky details and then passing it off to someone else for finishing. The only problem is that I have no idea how to go about persuading people to buy my ideas. I certainly know I have commercially viable ideas because over the past 20 years I have seen ideas I had thought up by other people and brought to market (usually the lag is 2-4 years from the time I had the idea, the longest (so far) was about 15 years from the time I had the idea until I saw something similar appear).

A few weeks back I was thinking about dying. Not in the literal sense, but in the figurative sense. I am where I am because of who I am, because of the way I approach things and do things. However, this also impedes me from moving forward. After all, if I continue to do things the way I have always done them, I will always get the same results (not that they are necessarily bad results). I think I can get better results. I believe I can achieve more. But, this cannot be done with the old me. The old me has to somehow die and be replaced with a new me.

My goal for 2007 is to die and be reborn.


busybee said…
His Richard, I too think of death. Perhaps such thought comes when we don't feel our life fulfilling or that we are not being treasured by others. For you, you shouldn't have such thought as I'm sure your family treasured you a lot.

Perhaps we should follow the Apostle Paul's example in Philippians 3:13-14,

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I think today's Daily Bread topic is also very appropriate for the new year,"Slow Down And Live"

Richard said…
Thanks for your thoughts and concern Bee, however, I am not literally thinking about death. I never have (Aside from wondering what it is like).

As mentioned, it is a figurative thought, who I am causes me to behave the I do. These actions lead to the results (or lack of results) that I get. It is more a death of certain behaviours and responses that is my goal and to have them replaced with better more proactive ones.

It is a difficult thing because my old self has given me a pretty good life, but I know I can achieve more and do better. The key is to eliminate (have die) those parts which hold me back. I could just as easily written about breaking the chains which confine me - but that metaphor would only be useful if I had ben bound against my will - which I am not. I am bound by my own chains.
Coffee fairy said…
The good news is that you are already on the first step to achieving your goal, because you know what you want. Indeed, the next step is to break away from those which hold you back from going for what your passion is. I'm almost sure whatever it/those are, involve a risk you are still contemplating on whether to take? I know it is not easy but I do believe that with God's guidance all will fall into the right place at the right time. Happy New Year and God bless you on your new life, Richard.
We'll look forward to the "Born Again" phase of Richard!

That's a tough aspiration because it may mean replacing your current job, which seems a pretty good deal for your stage in life. Too bad you can't find somewhere to pitch your ideas and get paid for them. To start a business and pay people to finsish the end product could be expensive and risky. Then, there's the sales and marketing angle to cover. But you never know who you shall meet who could help you.

You have an amazing mind and have much to offer.
Start Googling!
Barbara said…
I did it about 2 years ago and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I made some major changes in my life that allowed me to embrace things and people that I loved in a new way. You have to be excited to wake up every morning, or life becomes so dull that it is as if you had died. You may have to incur some risk to realize your dreams and your true potential. I hope 2007 is a year of discovery for you!
b said…
I relate completely with what you say here, Richard. I am much the same personality. So much so that in reading this, I thought I had written much of it myself!

I too am baffled by those who get bored so easily. My mind is constantly engaged in various pursuits. It is difficult for me to settle down in one career because I get started on something with tremendous effort and results, and then my interest wanes and I yearn to move on to the next thing. I agree...this can be a great trait but it can also be a great hinderance.

I too wish to evolve this year. Not necessarily replace myself but evolve those positive aspects of who I am and change my approach in certain ways to accomplish that which for so long has seemed to be just beyond my reach.

Happy New Year. Best wishes in the year to come!
KayMac said…
Happy New Year. Sounds like you are bound for new adventures....enjoy!! Good post!
I hope I am not one of those who depressed you by telling you i love working! :)

Sometimes, I do feel like you too, where everything you do seems stagnant and doesn't seem to go anywhere.

Many ideas come and go, and you can't grasp them, and you can't launch them.

You have them in you, but you do not have it in you to do something about them.

Sometimes, it just happens. Occasionally I allow myself to slip into that mode of inertia where I watch people, things, feelings, ideas pass me by.

But for me, maybe because I have witness death through my dad - that moment where I give up trying is always momentarily.

Death takes away everything including hopes, dreams and ideas. It comes without notices, and takes without asking.

I am not sure when it will come, but I know after seeing it - that I will not want to be where I am now when it does.

Hence, I need to be on the move constantly and I guess that thought powers the will and the determination to make good of whatever dreams and ideas I have.

Because the thing I fear most is when I am drawing my last breath, there is nothing on my mind but regrets.
ingrid said…
I think I often run from stagnation. It's probably why I moved to Amsterdam, why I went back to school last years, why I'll be starting a new job this year. A sense of stir-craziness that prompts me to make drastic change.

Good luck! I would like to be reborn too.
Matt said…
Whow! Very interesting, Richard. I will come back later and give you my two cents. I have to collect my thoughts first. Very nice post.
Richard said…
coffee fairy: let us hope so. Humans are very good at deceiving themselves or picking something and believing it is the solution. When I was in my despondent phase, I knew I was grasping at anything that came my way. Now that I feel better and have had time to carefully reflect, I hope my conclusion is valid. Of course, my chosen course of action is not something easy. Sometimes I think it would be if I knew my passion was selling high quality Alpaca sweaters – but it is not.

MOI: it may take me a while to get around to "killing" myself. I am notoriously slow and cautious. In some cases this is good, in others it is a hindrance. It is one characteristic that I would like to kill. I think I would get to my results faster if I first do something and then react to the consequences afterwards. Unfortunately, part of who I am tries to ensure I get the right result first time around (at least where my life is concerned, in other areas, I am notorious for testing the limits of things).

barbara: that is what I want, to be excited when I wake up every morning. Sadly, I cannot say I jump out of bed running for the office. Never have.

breal: I have tried evolving, making small changes, while it does help (it is also difficult because we have a tendency to resist change), it seems to be insufficient. At least in the sense of glacially slow Darwinian Evolution. I think it has to be more dramatic - the Punctuated Evolution of Niles Eldredge and Stephan Jay Gould .

I never abandon things, but I do finish with them once I see the conclusion and the rest becomes a matter of going through the motions. There are ideas in my head I have pondered for years and years because no adequte answer yet arises.

kaymac: I hope to be fulfilled, to find meaning and purpose. I believed when I was younger that this was something that came as we grew older, as we paid our dues going through school and learning the ropes. Sadly, it seems all we get is older and our dreams more remote. I am hoping for breathtaking landscapes rather than white-knuckle thrills.

elvina: do you love working? Or do you love doing things? I don't want to stop doing things. In fact I want to do more things. What I want is to stop doing things other people want to do. My greatest fear is that I will die without having achieved or accomplished all that I could have (on the flip side, I am afraid of squandering and wasting all I have achieved).

ingrid: if we are no longer growing then we are dying. I think it is wonderful that you are able to make those changes and pursue those goals. In order to be reborn, one has to die first - are you willing to die? Am I willing to give up slumping in front of the TV 22:30 Friday night and mindless flipping channels for an hour and a half because there is nothing on? Am I willing to stop reading books on writing and actually write something (will I kill the spirit which paralyzes my soul when I sit in front of the computer, yet whispers sweet promises at 2 in the

matt: ha! that is another habit I have to break. Sometimes I read something on another’s blog and I go away without commenting because I think it needs some thought. In almost all cases, I generally come back a few days later and write pretty much what had been my first instinct (I am trying hard to remember if I have ever altered my comment - at best, I think I make it more concise and less verbose and rambling).
Matt said…
Your words about what you feel and what you want have invited me to both speculate and question. I'm not sure where to begin because you cover many topics. Lets start with your work.

Given a chance not to work, I would take it.

Work is not always fun, and I have no idea what it is about your current job that eradicates your possibilities to do what you want. You have mentioned before that you want to spend more time with your family and your job doesn't allow that. Maybe that's where the problem lies. This is, of course, pure speculation.

I believe I have found what my ideal job would be: owning and running an incubator company.

Wait. So this is not work? Running your own company is a lot of work, no matter what kind of company it is. I'm pretty sure of that. So when you say that you long for retirement or just stop working, I'm not sure I understand you. It's almost as if you, in the middle of the post, got hit by a new idea and chased it, leaving behind the idea you started with to just disappear.

I want to pursue my own interests and ideas; I want to do my own thing.

Yes, we all do. Unfortunately, want is rarely the issue. Some people are fortunate to be able to do what it is that they want. But most of us will never be able to pursue our dreams. That's life. I'm not saying that you shouldn't try. Creativity is a wonderful thing. You should definitely go for it, and give it your best shot, but your life shouldn't depend on your success in that area. You must have a plan B, a safety net which protects your fall if you do fall.

Finding what I want to do is hard.

Okay, I think I'm lost because All I long for, all I have longed for for years is to retire. You want to retire. That's all you want. No wait, you want to start your own company. But what you really, really want is to pursue your own interests, which means no more work...and more work.

I have a mind full of ideas.

Yes you do. I think everybody here is very aware of your intelligence and your amazing mind. This post kind of proves it, doesn't it? You throw a billion ideas at us and let us try to understand what it is that you're saying. And based on the comments you've got - the variety of interpretations - I'd say that we all understand you differently. Are you playing a game with us, Richard? :)

The only problem is that I have no idea how to go about persuading people to buy my ideas.

And yet you have a mind full of ideas.

Your paragraph about dying and being reborn leaves me with a thousand questions but let's see if I can narrow them down to a few.

1. Why do you feel you have to do better?

2. If you were the only living person on the planet, would you still feel the same way?

3. Is the pressure to perform coming from you and only you, from other people who expect you to do better, or from your interpretations of how you think others see you? Or is the pressure coming from somewhere else?

You have previously mentioned the powerful feelings of accomplishment, and I agree with you. They are indeed powerful. So when you say that you are a lousy finisher, I get the sense that you don't get to feel those feeling of accomplishment as often as you might want. Am I right?

I know that you want to do a lot, write a book, a screenplay and lots of other things. But why not start with a smaller project? I have mentioned before that you should write a short story simply because you will get the feeling of accomplishent. You will finish it. Write a simple computer game for your kids. It doesn't matter if they don't like it. You did it. That alone will produce those feelings.

Maybe I just misunderstood your entire post. In any case, I wish you the best of luck in reaching your goals. You are a great person. You rule, remember?!
Cavalock said…
"The old me has to somehow die and be replaced with a new me."

ok...no more Doctor Who for you!

Happy New Year!
Yes, you are an interesting combo polarity of scientific logic and practicality, and on the other end, some fanciful pipedreaming!

Matt has some good questions to ask yourself. (Is he a psychologist doing his discertation on you?!!!!)

What is exactly missing from your life?
Are there people in your life who define the above for you or see you as lacking something?
What makes you happiest?
How can you attain that while keeping your present job?

Hope you find a path to this!

Thanks, Matt..that was a really detailed,observant and interesting take on this post!
Richard said…
matt: thanks for your comment. I often appear contradictory. sigh. It is a limitation of expression. I could be clearer and less ambiguous, but then my words would be guarded by conditions, provisos and lengthy explanations (which makes for stifling reading).

A lot depends on what people understand by work. It has two meanings: the vernacular and mine. In the vernacular it is generally understood as the activities I perform for a third party in exchange for monetary remuneration. A job.

When I say I do not want to work, I do not mean entering into a life and state of idleness and narcissistic indulgence. I wish to accomplish, I think it is an essential part of every human to want to accomplish, to want to achieve. I think it is necessary for good health.

Wanting to retire is a new thing (the past 10 years). Prior to that, when people would ask me what I want to do with my life, I would always answer, "Play." This would cause my parents, friends, and classmates much consternation. For them, the notion of playing is that of narcissistic indulgence or something you do after work and responsibilities are taken care of. I think life should be play, life should be a joyful and uplifting experience, not one of drudgery, punctuated by moments of reckless self abandon. (When I am working, my goal is to retire; when I am studying, my goal is to play.)

I dislike parsing words for specific meaning. While it is true that I am hyper literal, I prefer to try and understand the essence of the words, rather than the specific meaning - which is why I often suggest alternate wordings for things people say.

Saying I have found my ideal job is a bit difficult for me. I have thought long and hard over these many years to try and discover what it is I want. irrelevent reminiscence insertion When I was 10, I was drawing up plans to make a rocket. A few years ago when I learned about the X-prize, I felt sad that I had learned of it too late, because I would have loved to have a go at it (incidentally, Burt Rutan's Spaceship One concept was similar to what I was thinking about back then - although, his looks way cooler than what I had in mind). end insertion

The problem is that I don't have one passion. I don't have one interest. I have tried pursuing single projects, but I get bored once the technical details are solved. I discovered about 15 years ago that I prefer to have other people finish work for me. This occurred when I was working for a company and my job was to fix consumer electronic products. I found the job much more enjoyable when Tim (my boss) hired "grunts" to do the actual repair. I did the diagnosis and they this the mechanical task of replacing parts. This was great, because it satisfied my need to discover, to analyze, to solve without having me go through all the motions I was not interested in.

I am strongly independent and hate asking people for help. I do everything myself, from renovating my house to doing my taxes, to doing my own cooking. I want to do it. However, let us be honest, I don't enjoy doing all those tasks (like taxes - still have to fill out my 2005 taxes). I am coming to the conclusion that I need to rely more on outside people to handle those tasks I don't like. I met a chartered accountant a few weeks ago who offered to do my taxes (for free). Why? Aside from my being nice to her, she loves doing that sort of stuff.

Why do I dislike working? Mostly because it involves: long periods of boredom, repetition, and being constrained by others. The first two can be resolved by changing jobs (frequently), but that is not a solution addressing the core issue - it is simply a way of masking the core issue, but not addressing it. The latter, being constrained by other … well, this will be an issue even if I am independent - I cannot act solely for myself, I must act in a manner that addresses and respects the needs and requirement of those around me.
It is not about me being better than anyone else. Unfortunately, I am not one for keeping up with the Jones' (I wanted to build a rocket, I wanted to make a ruby laser – by growing my own ruby to boot, I want an cyclotron - atom smasher, I want a telescope, I want a DNA sequencer, but I do not want an iPod, or cell phone, or fancy car, or to wear a tuxedo).

Thinking about people I admire: da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Tom Swift. Da Vinci was constrained by his benefactors; Edison was constrained by having to make money and sell ideas and products; Tom Swift is a fictional character - so he was constrained by the authors' imagination.

Jules Verne, when he was younger, wanted to become a seaman and explore the world. When his father found out, he forbid him and Jules Verne never really traveled, except in his imagination and books.

I don't want to sound ungrateful. I am very grateful for everything I have, however, is it enough to simply be comfortable? Does not the human spirit cry out, struggle for, seek achievement and accomplishment? religious tangent coming God did not rest in His omnipotence, in His greatness, in His fullness, He created. As beings created in His image, does not the same spark of creation burn within each of us? To be co-creators with God? (sadly, most of what we create is misery and suffering)end religious tangent

Josef Pieper wrote a wonderfully titled book called "Leisure, the Basis of Culture". It is a philosophical book and quite dry and nowhere near as entertaining as the title. However, I find the ideas good and sound. Work for the sake of work is wrong. Work must be to fulfill the needs of Men, not to become the need of Man. When we are not at work, we must be at leisure, not the idle indulgence which passes for leisure in our modern world. Leisure is not time spent recovering from work, it is time spent glorifying and uplifting the spirit of Man.

An interesting talk I heard a few weeks ago (sorry, names elude me at the moment), the main speaker was saying that people who have no definition of self, who do not know who the are, become what they do. People become accountants, lawyers, software developers, the person who installs the blue widget, etc. When they lose their jobs, they lose their identity because their job was their identity.

There you go, hopefully, there is some coherency in my ramble. As usual, I try to cover many angles and so jump around a lot. I cannot see things from just one angle or perspective. I am constantly moving around my objective, never able to reach it, but describing it from new perspectives (often in the same breath).

cavalock: if I could die and regenerate, that would be really cool! Actually, having a TARDIS Would be really cool too; I would love to see the genesis of the universe - in slow motion of course, femtosecond by femtosecond

MOI: hey! whose side are you on? My position, my angst is not an easy one for most to understand. I find many people are quite content to do the same job day in, day out. To have the same conversations, to have the same routine. I find it really annoying when talking with someone and during the course of the evening, they repeat the same thing several times. Apparently, this is pretty normal behaviour, but annoying to me.
i love working, not doing things. I love creating things. I love seeing and making things happen. so i don't just dream about it, think about it or talk about it. i will take baby steps to fulfil it...even if it takes a while.

that way, i won't get bored so easily because each step to the dream requires different skills, experience, thought processes, people and decisions behind it.

life is short. achieve what u can, squander what u have. life it to the FULLEST - that's what i would say. :)
Matt said…
Richard! I think you just shattered the record for longest comment post in Blogger's history. Holy Moses!

I find it somewhat amusing that a philosopher like yourself so easily overlook the importance of definitions. When you say "work," I'm sure we all immediately think "job." When you want to retire from working, you want to retire from your job...that's what it usually means even though we all understand that you can still be active after retiring from your job!

You give us a very academic definition of work in the vernacular sense, but what you mean by the word is still not settled. My first guess must be that by work, you mean accomplish. You want to retire from your job, but you don't want to retire from accomplishing things. You are swaying back and forth a little bit - saying that you "dislike working" as if we are now back to the definition that work means job.

Have you ever heard of Charles Kay Ogden and his triangle? Look it up; you might find it useful.

You say that you have a need to discover and to analyze things. This leads me to believe that to you, to accomplish means to think. By the rules of logic, your definition of working, as opposed to the vernacular, would have to mean thinking.

And when you point out that you prefer to have other people finish "work" for you, it all makes sense that your ideal job is running your own think tank. You develop the ideas, other people put them to use. But I'm not entirely sure that you would feel that you accomplish things that way, though.

I get the feeling that you want recognition. You tell me.
Richard said…
elvina: I don’t think we are that different, although, unlike you are am less good at making things happen (mostly because I expect things to happen on their own). Read more of my reply to matt on the parsing of work.

matt: achievement / accomplishment is something I think everyone (including myself) wants. You are right about a think tank - although, I called it an incubator company (Lockheed Martin has what it calls a skunkworks). I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, I just dislike tedium.

Do I want recognition? I don't want to be anonymous. On the other hand, I want my privacy so I don't want to be a Bill Gates, or rock star.

I had not heard of Charles Kay Ogden (but I did look up his semiotic triangle). It has been more than 10 years since I have given up trying to be exactly precise with words - since it is just not possible. This is not to say words cannot be used clarify and to express, it is just that we have to be a little more open minded about what we hear (and perhaps do a little dance to really ensure we understand what the other person is expressing). This is especially true when dealing with communication across linguistic boundaries.

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