The Best I Can Do On Retirement Advice

A look at my retirement at the end of 2020…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

In 45 days I will have been retired for 7 years. When I was seven that was a long, long time. Now it is enough time for me to inhale, slowly.

In preparing for retirement, I had been reasonably lucky, financially, thank God. I lined up my ducks very carefully as to Medicare and Social Security for my spouse and me.

Notably, to obtain Kristine’s Social Security benefits, I needed a verified copy of our marriage license. My first thought was, did we remember to get one? I had no memory of showing up at the state offices to obtain same, as a lawyer might say. What had we done? My heart nose-dived to my feet. I was thrilled, to say the least, when too many days later the verified copy arrived in our mailbox.

I hand carried our Social Security enrollment papers to the local office. I used an…

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It’s been eight years, as of today, that I emailed three months’ notice of my retirement to my boss. Clicking SEND relaxed all of my musculature. I stopped gritting my teeth. A weight was lifted. There was a beautiful stillness.

Life just gives you those moments by the grace of God. I am so thankful I could retire. It was a grand gift.

This phase of life has allowed me to get closer to loved ones. I’ve seen new places without concern over my building email trove. It’s life, so it has its trials, but it’s a life of greater peace and opportunity.

If retirement is a part of your sojourn, hope it is filled with serenity.

Our Complex Lives

We are remarkably made.

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Human life is so, so complex. Our psyches to some extent go back thousands of years. We had our behaviors modeled by our parents, our grandparents, our great grandparents, etc., etc. These patterns via observation are deeply rooted within us.

We also have DNA-scripted patterns. In Dani Shapiro’s wonderful memoir, Inheritance, where she discovers her bio-father by sending her saliva for DNA analysis on a lark, she discovers a heavy dose of reality.

She was the result of artificial insemination, a family secret that died with her mother. Online the bio-father’s mannerisms are very revealing. She watches a video of her true father giving a speech with the same gestures she has used all her life.

Human design, quite remarkable. Don’t you think?

Could something as complex as the human mind have occurred without a grand design? Did matter occur suddenly out of nothing? Ponder those thoughts if you…

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Not Only the Good Die Young

“Nothing seems so tragic to one who is old as the death of one who is young and this alone proves that life is a good thing.” Zoe Akins, who was a Pulitzer Prize winning American author.

It brings to mind the worst thing I ever saw as a young medical student. That was the faces of parents of leukemic children. It was not only the powerful tie to their offspring, but, also that potential loss of a huge portion of a life. Frequently, as long as possible, grandparents are spared the news of childhood cancers in families given it’s impact at their stage of life.

As an elder at 76, I so appreciate each God-given day of life and, as the author suggests, am more deeply grieved at the loss of a young life. I feel that grief even for those in their 50s or 60s.

Little Richard, A Little Obit

One electric rocker we lost in 2020…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Thanks Macon, GA. You brought us a star.

Little Richard kept our feet pounding. We couldn’t be couch potatoes when he started to rock. His music was and is infectious.

Now we have this sometimes gift, the Web, from which he can again become alive and sing at the very top of his lungs.

Little Richard, thanks for making all our lives a little bit better. We WILL miss you.

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“People are fascinated by the rich: Shakespeare wrote plays about kings, not beggars” Dominick Dunne, American, who, wrote novels about rich felons.

The Old Testament is frequently about the rich, the New Testament, the poor, particularly one poor carpenter and a tentmaker who met Him on the road to Damascus. It seems Mr. Dunne’s remark substantially missed the mark on the West’s first printed book, the most popular, as well, for hundreds of years.

Interesting. Don’t you think?

So Far

Looking back to May 2020…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

I feel blessed today. I was able to see another sunrise. I am about a month short of ¾ of a century of sunrises.

I have never gone without food on the table or a roof over my head. I have rarely been without electricity and never been without indoor plumbing, something that was not true of my father whose own father found it very hard at times to support the family. Granddad eventually abandoned them.

As to sickness, I have never really felt severe pain in my life. No heart attacks, no emergency surgeries, etc, etc. I have no stents in any of my vessels. The only pain that ever kept me up at night was in my back at 27 and my big toe at 73.

Kristine and I, of course, are living through the COVID-19 crisis. We don’t know what we have in store for the next…

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“A Tenacious Adventure”

“Love is a tenacious adventure… Real love is one that triumphs lastingly, sometimes painfully, over the hurdles erected by time, space and the world. “Alain Badiou, an 84 year-old, French philosopher.

Even for the quite careful, love has a siren song that is almost impossible to avoid. The loved one, even at one’s first meeting, is unique, unlike any person one has ever met. The difference cannot be defined. It can only be experienced.

Yes, there are hurdles and pain and heartbreak. But there is something undefinable in the connection between two souls, in real love, that cannot be breached, thank God.


A second look at my favorite drink…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Coffee has been around for centuries. Most bitter tastes in nature are a warning to the creature thinking of digging in. Coffee is exceptional.

It seems to be a beverage that brings people together. Spouses. New friends. Old friends.

May your life be filled with good coffee, comfortable chairs and dear ones. All three are very welcome in these times shadowed by a dark cloud.

P.S. I managed to include a whole chapter on my favorite beverage in the June, 2020, Amazon published, Please Save the Third Dance for Me. Please do.

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Art and Life

“And sometimes art can offer us more intense experiences of the world than life itself can.” Anthony Doerr, a marvelous American fiction writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for All the Light We Cannot See.

Have you ever spent several minutes looking intently at one of those rare pieces of art like a great Vermeer? Or, have you ever read Sylvia Plath’s line, “What did my arms do before they held you?”

Simply listening to the clarinet riff that begins Rhapsody in Blue can be an intense experience for me. That can also be true of Chuck Berry’s Carol that always makes me want to get up and dance.

How about you?