Homework Assignments

Cars & Coffee in Charlotte, NC August 3, 2013

“I’ve got to conversations going on in my head,” he explains, a bemused smile deepening the creases around his eyes.  “One says, ‘Hey, you’ve got a lot of stuff you want to do, man.  Now’s the time, because you’re gonna kick the bucket pretty soon.’  The other says, ‘Oh, Jeff, you want to make the rest of your life a giant homework assignment? Just relax, man.  Just relax.'”

– Jeff Bridges interview in AARP Magazine, Aug/Sep 2014

Words to live by, as far as I’m concerned.  Kathy & I have spent a lot of time thinking about what comes “next,” as though it has to be something different from what we’ve done for the last 30+ years.  But sometimes I wonder why.  I’m not unhappy with what I’ve done, and if I never get to Europe or Antarctica I don’t think I will find my life somehow unfulfilled.

A lot of what we think and feel is due to the old “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome – that somehow something different will be magically better.  And why is that?

12 thoughts on “Homework Assignments”

  1. And, once we’re on the other side of the fence we realize the grass was just as green on ethereal other side. Just relax is good advice. If taken well then those things on the bucket list will get done. Did you guys buy a new car?

  2. There’s certainly a time in one’s live when questions such as this are asked. I’ve come to subscribe to the theory that:

    “The only thing constant in life is change” ~ François de la Rochefoucauld

    Being one that doesn’t change quickly, or often easily, adopting this theory of life is unsettling for me but never-the-less I think it’s true. Bonnie has often said changes in life are usually easily discernible in five year segments — in five years your life will be substantially different then it is now.

    The French classic author, François de la Rochefoucauld, also had something interesting to say about tranquility which I believe applies here:

    “When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere”

    If we find inner tranquility then changes or not, doing the same thing or doing something totally different in the future, will be simply how we live our lives, not a statements of who we are.

    1. That sounds like a blog post of your own in the making, Earl!

      Kathy & I have always had what we call a “Five Year Plan.” Of course we revise it every year, and it’s interesting to see how we need to adapt over the years. But overall it’s been worth having. The plan, that is!

  3. Great post, Tom. I rather like just rolling with things and I love the way that you and Kathy just “go” – Earl and Bonnie, too!

    I’ve heard that if you think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, you need to water your own lawn. 🙂 That makes lots of sense to me! I’m with you: If I don’t make it Europe or Antarctica, it’s all good. I still will have led a wonderful life.

    Next week, starting Wednesday, my first day of “unemployment” between jobs, I’m doing to start driving The Blue Ridge Parkway … the entire length. I plan to take about 3 days to do those nearly 500 miles. Why? Well, because I want to 🙂

    1. Thanks, Paul. The Blue Ridge Parkway idea sounds like a good one. You might as well drive the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park, too. It’s just another 105 miles!

      I did that trip one-way on a bicycle more than just a few years ago. I highly recommend a car! 🙂

      1. Thanks for the suggestion, Tom. I just might do it. Of course, it will take me nearly 6 hours to get to my starting point, but then again, I’m in no hurry whatsoever, so it’s all good.

        There will be no bicycle involved. I plan to mosey my way back to Marion, where Vanessa lives, and arrive there about Saturday – taking 3+ nights to get there.

  4. This is a good post Tom; a topic that comes up regularly with some of my friends who are looking at winding down their work and wondering what to do with their free time. With some of them, their retirement sounds like it will be more tiring and more demanding than their old jobs.
    With me it’s a bit different. I don’t like subscribing to the grass-is-greener scenario (that’s what my wife is here for 🙂 ) because experience has taught me it’s a fool’s game but I do like change (within reason of course) even if at first it doesn’t appear to be for the better; however, the irony is that I’m far too lazy to make change happen 🙂 Fortunately I’m generally happy with status quo too but who knows, as I get older I may just turn out to be a grumpy old man who is dissatisfied with everything. Hmm, I might need to start working on my De Niro frown.

  5. I don’t mind being busy as long as it’s rewarding work. That’s the problem with the work I do for a living – the bigger the company gets the less meaningful the work seems to be. And in my “55+ Active Adult” neighborhood I have a lot of examples of “grumpy old men” and am resolved to prove that they are not role models for me!

    1. I know what you mean about doing rewarding work. For years I thoroughly enjoyed my work. As I work for a local government what I did had an impact on the community I lived in so there was an obvious sense of satisfaction I derived from doing my share. Back then I didn’t see myself retire. The idea of working (even if it was only part-time) well into my later years, strongly appealed to me. In the last three years however, a lot has changed. Much has turned political and less about what’s good for the city and its community. Senior management is all about covering asses, finger-pointing and proportioning blame. As a Solutions Architect I’ve seen more and more of my recommendations get overlooked or ignored in preference for an obviously inferior solution which makes me highly suspicious of motives.
      Anyway, enough ranting. I agree with you Tom, we shouldn’t make grumpy old men our role models, there’s still too much to be grateful for.

    2. That’s a tough one, Tom. I worked for the bank and, well, it’s all about making greater profit – little to no “meaning” in that for me; however, I love what I do, so that’s enough and the fact that they pay me, well, that’s an important part too. 🙂

      I certainly don’t have any plans to be a grumpy old man! I’m with you!

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