Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fallen and I Can't Get Up

Though still of an age in which I have some remaining gristle, with energy enough to continue earning a living with aplomb, good grace and a placid countenance, I am also at the awkward age when the prospect of retirement looms daily larger. If my superannuation is the consequence of sudden delirium, glaze-eyed dementia, a quick enfeeblement or some similar concomitant of geezerhood, then so much the better. Time will not weigh heavily on the head that can't remember what it looks like.

On the other hand, retiring from the weekly round while still of a clear mind and with a modicum of soundness brings with it the awful responsibility of staying out of everyone else's way and improving the abrupt windfall of free time. What, short of getting rousted for falling asleep on park benches, does a person foundering in these straits do to stay out of trouble? Many elderly folk fill their days as volunteers in their churches, synagogues or mosques . . .

"So you thought we paid him to do this?"

 . . . though lacking such affiliation and preferring a serviceable skepticism, that may not be the best avenue for my own energies. Still, a person can only flyfish so much. I've never liked board games nor card games, so that leaves out poker and bridge (doubly so, since I don't own a handgun); it also leaves out backgammon, mah jongg, and daily chess matches with grizzled confreres in bird-fouled public parks.

Speaking of birds, it has also been cautiously floated that I spend my dotage adding to my "life list," the ornithological simulacrum of the male member, every "birder" judged according to its length. This list is compiled in competition intensified by the absence of anything whatsoever at stake excepting great expense; it requires expensive travel at inopportune seasons in weirdly practical clothing (insect-and-water-repellent outerwear, high-tech GPS-enabled pants that convert to shorts, mesh sun hats with NASA-approved foil sun shields in the crown), expensive and cumbersome optical equipment, an autistic attention to the minutiae of plumage, behavior, habitat, range, and seasonal happenstance. 

Birding requires one to converse with otherwise presumably reasonable adults in the quasi-poetic language of avian nomenclature while also mentioning the cost of getting to where you watched the unoffending creature, the manufacturer of the optical device through which it was watched (Swarovski always trumping Nikon, which in turn trumps Bushnell), the length of your list of watchees, and your preferred haberdasher (Patagonia  trumps Dickey work clothes).

There was a time, I suppose, when I might have ridden my bicycle in large groups over long distances for charity, but I have already discussed that elsewhere. Besides having many of the same drawbacks as birding (see above), I am nearly at an age to be the beneficiary of such rides more than a participant.

Typical charity ride participant

I've known people to stave off the boredom of retirement by taking up school bus driving, but for my money, that's asking for trouble. Things tend to get a bit frisky among the younger set - get yourself crossways with just one of them and you might as well kiss your driver's seat and what was in it goodbye.

No, I've given this some thought. I need a hobby. Preferably one that will give me moderate exercise, allow me to wear my old clothes, and won't require me to interact particularly nicely with anyone. Paintball comes to mind, but once again, just too much expensive equipment involved.

Going off in the camper also has its drawbacks. You might end up camping next to someone you'd never in a million years have anything to do with. And at $4 per gallon, the leisurely life can be very expensive. But I guess with a little foresight and enough distance, it could be managed.
"I've fallen and I can't get up."

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