Saturday, January 9, 2016

Spot Ya A Synapse and Raise You one Neuron

Spoiler Alert! Reading further may make your brain hurt!

And it will hurt yours worse than mine, because mine is rather used to the chaos in here.

I'm a collection of anomalies. There I said it. I am as contradictive and dystopian as one can get. And since that sentence probably made little sense to you, well, you see how crazy it is in here?

Okay, there is this.

Life is sorta like events interspersed with getting groceries, clipping your toenails and cleaning the lint filter in the dryer. You get what I mean. We get hired, fired, a baby is born, a grandparent dies, one contracts beriberi and one rejoices at the first tomato. In between is all the "stuff" of normalcy, passing as chores, and "routine".  We get up, we shit, we wash, we dress, we fit widgets with washers and then we come home, eat, vegetate and pass out for a few hours only to do it all over again.


It's that last part that makes me shudder.

I remember being around 40ish, practicing law in dreary, scary, boring Detroit, and looking at doddering old fools in their 80's shuffling around, dropping files and papers, not being able to hear their case called very well, grabbing their victim client firmly by the arm and marching them through a plea agreement neither one understood much at all.

I cringed, not so much for the luckless client as for the picture of me doing that, that transferred into my mind and made me want to run for the nearest ledge to leap from. I dinna wanna do that when I was 80.

The endless drudgery of sameness damned near stultified my breathing.

I have never been able to comfortably imagine doing the same thing for EVER. I mean the idea of living in the same house for 40 years unnerves me. To live and die within a radius of a hundred miles fills me with such sorrow and terror actually that I would feign take a turn at the local YWCA in Salt Lake rather than live all my life one place.


Have no clue.

Just is.

Doing the same thing forever, in the same place, fills me with dread. I avoid it, have avoided it for a good portion of my life. I'm not your hi, marry me, lets have babies together, you work, I'll work, and we will raise these kids, retire, adore grandchildren, and die in a bed surrounded by all those we love. It's the scenario most buy into, happily I presume.

Me? Terrifies me. Perhaps it's because I have a family with way too many people I don't really care much for. Spending a lifetime in that company will neutralize whatever intellect one started with I'm quite sure.

Now we get to the OTHER side.

I am not the person you would call to do something spontaneous. I hate spontaneity. I gotta plan ahead. That's all there is to it. No, I will not pack a bag and fly to Paris with you on the "spur of the moment" whatever the hell spur means in that context. No I will not.

Change my pool time, and it will take me a couple of weeks to rearrange all my other rituals and routines to fit the new schedule. And I won't feel the least comfortable until I've tweaked it sufficiently such that it feels "normal" to me.

I'm doing that now. I'm at the pool now at 6 a.m., a full two hours earlier. So no reading in the morning, no breakfast, no planning menus and other trivia. No first load of clothes in the dryer as I leave. It's all upended and I'm uncomfortable.

Tell me how these two very clear focuses on life can live together in one aging body? Please!

Now add this gem.

I separate "ongoing learning" from "set learning". Set learning is that body of knowledge all tend to agree is necessary to be absorbed before one is entitled to call oneself a bricklayer, lawyer, or accountant. Once you have learned the "set" of instructions on any subject, you may be that thing, and do that thing usually with some certificate called a license.

This is the money-making enterprise, the thing that makes everything else go. It earns the bucks that enables the dryer to be bought, the steak to be savored, and the grill to be heated up. Trouble is, I'm one of those "once I have learned the set knowledge, and proven that I get it and can use it properly," I'm pretty much done. Bored out of my skull.

Ready to move on.

Not a healthy way to earn a living consistently.

Ongoing learning is the thing I crave. It's the learning that has no end, each new discovery leading to new questions  and a new line of investigation. I crave it, I love it, I embrace it.

Very cool when the two come together. But I chose law, which is the epitome of set learning. It doesn't mean you don't continually update some of the info, because you do. But one does a lot of it by rote. I shoulda chose something like theology or paleontology, both subjects I've come to love.

Of course, being from a working class family, one doesn't dawdle with foo-foo professions that don't lead to jobs in the known free world. Last time I check Kraft Foods was not looking for a theologian. In fact, about the only people who do look for "on going learning" sorts  are universities. And I didn't think I wanted to teach it.

Kaleidoscope your way into now and see how it all fell out?

Well, being retired, I no longer am bored out of my skull by "beginning with Terry v Ohio,  and Cady v Dombrowski, et al. . . ." dialogues with yawning prosecutors and judges paging through their favorite magazine on the bench. That's the good part.

I made enough money, married enough money, that I was allowed to leave that past behind and concentrate on what I wanted to do NOW.

I figured, as most early retirees do, that just "doin what I want" would be splendid. It is, to a point. Then it becomes boring and meaningless and well, yes, endless. And the old fears return. Is there nothing new under the sun for me?

I seem to have found the right arrangement recently. It's a mixture of "doin what I want" and adding in some ongoing learning, and a bit of set learning too. It's learning new crafts, new ideas, new subjects of interest to concentrate on. It's blending and mixing it all up somehow into an easy but busy day that leave one satisfied at the end that one has "accomplished something."

I always say, feed the mind, the soul, the body. It's balance and each person much figure out what balance works best for them.

Right now, I'm engaged in learning to knit socks (class starts first Sunday in February), learning Spanish, (classes one hour a week), getting to the end of at least one "100 books you should read in your life"list,  and recombining a lot of things I do already that nurture me spiritually and bodily. When those are mastered, I'll seek new adventures. I have some new leads to volunteer work that might suit me as well.

The best part is I have a partner both flexible and with ideas of his own, and we can combine some things (like the Spanish classes) and go our own way on others. Discussing our triumphs and failures, our minor successes and near misses adds variety and excitement to our life together.

So, somehow I come to grips with my need and desire for routine, and my fear and loathing of sameness, and I manage to fashion a life that suits me.

Whether I am odd or normal is really of no concern to me. What you think isn't either but still I'd be interested in how you see the world. Are you married to a spot on this earth that is "home" and feels perfect forever? Or are you like me, always looking for something new to fit into your comfortable routine?

I really hope it turns out I'm odd. I would like to be odd. It's something to aim for.