Carol will be going soon to Santa Fe to participate in a conference called Madness and Creativity. Yesterday she was out and about and decided to buy some new luggage for the trip. Our stuff for travel is pretty old, ripped, torn and on the verge of falling apart. So she got this bright red, very light, state of the art luggage, and at one point in the evening she said I bet it will last twenty years.
She was thinking of how we tend to use something until it falls apart. I thought of something else and felt a little cold, stab in my heart.
In twenty years, I could easily be dead or in terrible shape in some “home.”
I have been pretty good lately at keeping the death stuff at arm’s length, but at that moment I was taken by surprise at the idea of luggage–bright red luggage–that could outlive me (in terms at least of its usefulness).
The LA Times runs an occasional feature in which a financial consultant looks at somebody’s finances and gives recommendations. Today I glanced at it and then read the whole article because the couple (they appear to have no children) roughly parallel in their financial situation Carol and me. The wife of the couple is 68, the husband, who looked slightly overweight in the picture, is 64, and the consultant’s advice was direct, unequivocal, and clear: RETIRE. And, oh, they should put less of their money in stocks and more in money market and bonds. But mostly it was RETIRE because you have the money to do it without worry and because you only have so much life and if you wait too long you may lose the health, the relative physical well-being, that will allow you to enjoy your “golden years.”
OK, so given our financial situation, I guess my thinking about retiring July of next year is sort of rational.
I know the financial consultant is right. I have enough experience at this point to know that, while one might have ten thousand interesting and enlivening things to do, if one doesn’t have the energy to do one damn thing these ten thousand things might as well not be at all.
So RETIRE while you still have the energy left–while your big outing of the week is NOT going to see the doctor–and use the money you have to enjoy yourself.
But the financial consultant didn’t have much advice about what to do to enjoy yourself. Travel, he said, and, oh, take up multiple hobbies.
Fine, I guess, but I don’t like thinking about this stuff. It feels odd to be making such a big decision based mostly on the fact you will be dead in 20 years.