Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » August 2005 » Wisdom from Dr. Dad....

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08/09/2005: Wisdom from Dr. Dad....

Dr. Abby's Dr. Dad, that is; my dad's a great guy, but he didn't have the inclination to take his education that far... Anyway, for those of you who've joined the show already in progress, Dr. Dad has decided (anong with a couple of his buddies) to take up blogging in his retirement. Dr. Dad's been up the mountain and back a couple times, and he and his co-bloggers have got a lot of thought provoking things to say. Consider adding them to your daily rounds.

Now.... having gotten the introduction out of the way.... Dr. Dad has a couple interesting posts up today (actually yesterday, but I tend to do my blogreading in the morning while I'm waiting for the caffeine to kick in). For those of you following l'affaire Plame, Dr. Dad presents a brief recap. And as part of his series on building a pole barn (a fascinating series in itself; I strongly recommend it regardless of your race, creed or political affiliation (or lack of any)), he gives us a few musings on realizing it's time to hit the road to retirement:

Retiring wasnít a simple thing. I remember back in the Air Force days, all the career guys talked about it all the time, even the young ones [they were in their 30ís, but knew the date of their future retirement already]. I never thought about it much myself.

A few years back, Iíd watched Al go through it. His business, photography, was changing with the coming of digital cameras and "in-house" advertising; the property values in our in-town neighborhoods were soaring [as were the property taxes]; and pretty soon, he was talking about redoing a house in the country. But what I remember from back then was that he seemed uncharacteristically worked up about things like property taxes and modern urban life. Another professional colleague announced his retirement. I thought he must have cancer or something, but he was fine. Still is. He also went through a sort of cynical period for the year or so before he retired - things in our professional organization that were just the way things had always been became "ridiculous." They were, but it was nothing new.

I suppose my buying a cabin and building a barn/workshop sounds like someone deciding to retire, but I didnít know it at the time. Then, one day, I realized for the first time in my career, that I didnít want to be at work. And I was getting cynical and irritable, something thatís just not like me. Then I understood what Iíd seen in my friends. It meant that I was done. It wasnít so much a decision - more like waking up in a new place. Once it was clear why I was so disgruntled, it went away [the irritable feeling]. Funny how that works.


So, my suggestion is to notice that negativity when it starts, and recognize that it might mean youíre needing to retire, or maybe that youíre ready to change what youíre doing. Something else. Knowing sort of where youíre going and what youíre might be doing when you get there
before you retire is a really good idea. "Iím just going to take it easyÖ" "Maybe Iíll take up golfÖ" "Maybe weíll travel someÖ" might sound really good, but itís just not enough.

Build a Pole Barn. Thatís my adviceÖ
Good advice. Unfortunately, a couple of marital mistakes and general financial incompetence prevent me from ever looking foward to a retirement like Dr. Dad's, but I recognize the symptoms of needing to change what one is doing. I went through some of them right before making the decision (the best one I've ever, made), to get out of the legal profession and find someting better to do with my life.

So, the moral of the story (as I see it): don't ignore what your emotions are telling you. You'll be much happier for it if you take notice of them, and change when it's clear you need to.

Len on 08.09.05 @ 08:38 AM CST

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