Even though I’ve never been a great lover of scheduled events there is one aspect of being back in Wisconsin that I’m really enjoying. We were separated from our daughter for so much of the past 6 years that the opportunity to see and spend time with her on a sort-of routine schedule is really, really nice. My enjoyment of Life is built of a million little details; some of which I’m not keen on, others of which I tolerate, and finally those that I really enjoy. I don’t need a lot of them, but achieving a reasonable mix is really all that I need to stay happy.
- I’m never going to be rich. I say that knowing that we enjoy a great many things that some people around the world would consider luxurious. Appreciating the things you DO have and not stressing about the things you DO NOT have has a lot to do with how content you are with your life.
- I’m never going to be rich. I say that knowing that many of our decisions are either / or choices — we can’t afford to do two things, so we pick the one thing that we want most. I refuse to go into debt for most things. I’d rather enjoy what I have with a clear conscience and no bill collectors on my doorstep than pretend to afford more. I know I won’t be pleased when the bill comes in. That’s just how my brain functions.
- I’m never going to be rich. Top shelf usually isn’t my choice, I’m prone to aim for a quality level that maximizes my benefit while minimizing my cost. I bargain hunt but I don’t believe you ever get something for nothing — so I don’t deceive myself about the cost vs value tradeoff.
Having family around is one of those things that has no “cost” in terms of dollars and cents. We didn’t decide to move back to Wisconsin solely because of family so I can’t say that being near family cost me the sale of a house and the expenses of moving. We moved because we had a long litany of check marks on the “Wisconsin is the better place for us” list. I know people who put a pricetag on family. They count up how much it costs to attend events, or to host an event. Being part of a small family I’ve never had to do that. If I wanted to invite people over for a holiday meal I did so — and never once considered the expense. But similarly, if I didn’t feel I could afford doing so I wouldn’t issue the invitations. No one says you HAVE to be a slave to tradition and the two of us were the tradition breakers in our clan. (Sometimes much to the dismay of our parents who were much more traditional)
Having family near enough to see them regularly is a treat. But not so much of a treat that I want it to be set in stone that every 13 days we’ll see someone, and every holiday we’ll do thus-and-such. I have always been blind to calendars — I worked Monday through Friday when I had to but my brain never embraced the idea that Monday was any different from Wednesday or Saturday. I do get to points where several days of activity tell me it’s time for day off — so sometimes I’ll be sitting there on a Thursday and I feel as if it’s supposed to be Friday but I’ll just bet that part of that sensation is the results of my meds that cause me to feel tired more easily and my body is just saying, “it’s time for the weekend.”
We have gotten to a point where we see Katy on a fairly routine rhythm. I don’t want to call it a schedule because it’s not really a schedule. We had been expecting to see her tomorrow for a good part of the day and this morning as I ate my eggs and toast we got a message from her asking if we could do “tomorrow” today instead. Sounded good to me, so we changed our plan. Whether or not we’ll see her again tomorrow has yet to be determined. 🙂
My point being that as a time-challenged individual — being married to a wonderful woman who knows that I am time and calendar challenged we have adapted to a retired life that shuns any more appointments than necessary. We make our doctors’ appointments 6 months in advance. That way we know we can get IN and OUT early in the day and that works for us. We make lab appointments for 1 week in advance — also early in the A.M. — before the lab gets busy. It works for us and seeing as we both have to do fasting labs that means we can have breakfast right after they draw blood. Easy. Simple. I love simple. As many of our bills as possible we have set up for autopay. That way we needn’t be concerned about whether it’s the 15th of the month, or the 24th of the month. — those bills that have deadlines get paid by the great CHRONOS PROGRAM in the sky (in case you aren’t UNIX savvy, Chronos is the scheduling program that tells programs like WordPress when to publish an article that’s sitting in Queue). I do everything I possibly can to avoid calendars. And appointments.
I’ve never been the person to be late to meetings. I have always been the guy who arrived too early. There have been times when we (Peg & I) have driven to the location of a future meeting — as a sort of dry run — just to see how long it would take to get there so that on the day of the meeting we weren’t late! My current aversion to schedules isn’t about not being able to get there, it’s about not wanting to have to be there. A lifetime of work has taught me one very personal lesson: one of the greatest luxuries of life is freedom — and part of freedom is the tyranny of living your life to someone else’s schedule. I would almost always rather be doing something modest than have to rush to coordinate my “doing” something with someone else.
One of the nice things about being near family — for us — and this may or may not be unique to us — is that we share a way of thinking. Kathryn jokes that her husband never quite ‘gets’ our family sense of humor. None of the three of us think our humor is out of the ordinary — but then we know each other very, very well. We’ll joke about something and he simply doesn’t see it as humorous. It’s not particularly off color or biased or racial or sexist or any particular -ist or -ial that I can think of, his mind just works in a different way. But think about it… it’s a great luxury to be with people with whom you are completely yourself. You aren’t adjusting your jokes to be more understandable. Heck — I don’t tell formal jokes because most of the time I can’t remember a set punchline to save my life — “telling jokes” isn’t fun for me because I never get them right! But the luxury of being with someone who knows you well enough to hear what is possibly a mist-statement and still know where your brain was going with the thoughts (even if not with the words) — well, that is luxury beyond a price.
I sometimes wonder about people with a lot of money. With many of them — and for example I’ll use the all-too-present visage of Donald Trump — with many of them they never look like they are really happy. I see smiles on faces that are unconvincing; but most of the time I see sober even troubled expressions — and I think to myself, “Man, am I glad I am not them!”
I like my doctors. One I have had for 30 years — we are graying at the same time (well, I started before her). My cardiac specialist and his P.A. smile a lot; I even get them to laugh once in a while — I try to be cheery and when they walk in the room and we joke and tell each other stories about our lives and families and I love that they all come to work and enjoy what they do. I know both docs make a lot more money than I do — they are among the exceptions to what seems the unhappiness of better-off people in my life. I have proven that over years of dealing with them. They are genuine; no fake smiles or fake inquiries into our lives. I value genuine people in the same way I value the absence of schedules.
I’m glad we made this move.