Saturday, November 04, 2006

What's a guy to do?

When I was nearing retirement, I read some articles on how to prepare for such a state. There were a lot of practical suggestions such as keeping one foot still on the trade that one was in prior to retirement…a gradual moving away from a lifelong routine. It makes sense to do this. One might find oneself feeling totally inadequate when into a completely alien territory that one has no known competence on. It could be very depressing. Some of the doable endeavors that presented themselves were to be a figurehead president of a research company which some former colleagues were planning to set up. Others were consultancy with a handful of companies, teach market research in the university, write teaching modules and do seminars. I dismissed each one thinking that I may not be able to stand the pressure no matter how small they were. I do not need the tensions and the pressures that go with the acceptance of any of these responsibilities.
My health was not ideal by the time I reached retirement age. I have had diabetes for more than fifteen years and was already on regular insulin shots and just a few years back my ticker was largely constricted and they had to perform an angioplasty procedure to repair the blocked arteries. All my diseases are stress related.
The wild and wooly badlands of advertising in the sixties, the pressure of managing brands in highly competitive fast moving consumer goods markets plus the rigors of running and satisfying the sales and profit targets of an American multinational company for more than a decade have exacted their toll on my health. With some amount of braggadocio I have said that earning the next million is not worth it. However, this could be very true with the high cost of medical care these days.
So, moneymaking activities have been ruled out.
A suggestion that I liked best was on farming. I had fantasies about living off the land. You know, the joy of growing things with your manure dirtied hands. Small time farming, an orchard and some vegetable patches to take care of would be heavenly. I had the notion that I could be a good handyman and it would be nice to take up woodcraft as something to do while the vegetables are growing and the trees are waiting for the next fruiting season. I was bent on doing all these. In a trip to the US I bought a few small power tools and had a craft table made with a work platform. I had to move on to the next suggestion when my wife declared that she was not a farm girl and have no intentions of becoming one now.
In addition to all these, it was suggested to have some cerebral pursuits. This was, also, to my liking. I would have a lot time in my hands to revisit all the novels and poems I read during my college days.
I took stock of the books that I had in my possession. I found out that I have not bought any new fiction except for a few of the more recent books of Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorites. All the rest of fiction books on the shelves were from what I acquired when I was in my twenties. My shelves were teeming with management books, books on marketing and research, psychology and a few inspirational pieces and how tos.
I now frequent second hand bookstores in search of favorite and familiar authors during my college years. These authors have now been replaced in the best sellers list by the young contemporary writers. I have been often rewarded by this browsing habit. Hemingway is hardly known to the younger readers, and so with Herman Hesse, Steinbeck, Willa Cather, Welty, Asimov, DH Lawrence, CS Lewis, Updike, Arthur C Clarke, Mccullers and other great writers of the nineteenth and twentieth century. The prices that they tag on to these precious literary works are absurdly low and insulting to the authors. I shouldn’t complain. I have managed to restore my library with the works of these fine authors for a pittance.
Just revisiting old favorites and reading other works of my admired authors is all that I do now. Idleness is not so bad after all. I get all the excitement that I need from the restocked treasury of experiences in my library.

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