The biggest surprise I’ve had in aging, is how much I think about it. Or death, I should say. Actually, it’s the space between now and the unknown date of death that hangs heavy in my thoughts. That’s it. I really want to make the most of my time, and the biggest realization of aging is that I’m not going to have enough time to do all the things I’ve dreamed of, not by a long shot. Logically that should never have been a surprise, but for the most part, logic has little to do with this sort of thing.
Why the obsession?
First, I’m retiring in about 23 or so work days. As the calendar flies it’s about 58 days or so, but taking out weekends, a holiday and vacation time, it really is getting close. Now this is a workplace where I’ve been for 37 years and a handful of months. My first day of work was December 27th, 1979. Oddly enough, I also dreamed of working at this place since I was in middle school, at the latest. I used to pretend doing this job as a kid, for this company. Even though I am retiring to 16 hours a week, not leaving entirely, I’ve been a top level manager at this place for the last 12 years and the dream has been a part of my life for so long… it’s just been a lot harder than I thought. Even though the boss is a cruel bully.
It’s a major life transition, like leaving home or graduating from college, but with a totally different focus. The future I am building toward isn’t work, or anything to do with getting ahead or earning a living or raising a family. This retirement thing is good, and I have plenty to look forward to, but… I am just surprised that it is impacting me in this way. I’m lucky to be in a position to retire at age 60, really lucky, but I’ll tell you, it’s still a bit challenging.
Then there’s my family history. My father retired and died within a year, give or take, at the age of 61. His father died in his late 30’s or early 40’s, as did my mother’s father. I don’t smoke, and certainly not three unfiltered cigarette packs a day like my father did, but still. You think about it… and I do have a couple of those conditions that can mow you down earlier than the average.
Yes, I have a logical brain, too. I know all the counter arguments/thoughts. Just know the logic is there, and know those doubts are, too. Both are working pretty well.
So boats. Those thoughts, those changes, impact that. What’s my next boat? I have a small one in process already, but what’s my next shantyboat? I’ve written about that a lot, as it has been on my mind for a decade plus. But with that limited time ahead of me, which boat do I really want to build?
Have you ever had your heart set on something and then settled for second best? Of course, we all have, as we don’t have the money for all the fancy dreams brewing in our heads. But I mean, did you buy something more practical, when you wanted and could afford and make work, something you really, really wanted instead?
Well, in boats, there’s one beauty I’ve always wanted. Some time back I wrote, “The Atkins “Lady of the Lake”. What a lovely boat, in a simple way. Imagine, too, the sound of the paddlewheel as you head to your next appointment with some quiet bend on your favorite river. Each morning you’d open the curtains to see the mist rising off the water, and listen for the red wing blackbirds as you get a pot of water hot for your cup of tea. In your dreams the wind is always light, though rain does add a bit to the romance of it all, along with that fire in the tiny woodstove. The crackling sound in the fire is always nice, but never more so than on board on a cold and rainy day. Yes, that’s the way it will be. Sometimes I’ll be exploring new waters, interested to see what’s around every river bend. Mostly I’ll revisit the sloughs, my home on the water, a gem, though a somewhat muddy one, hidden in plain site as it crosses beneath the interstate, to Puget Sound in one direction, in the other my secluded hideaways.
Or perhaps the boat I call Taunt.
So now, with thoughts of limited time I think… both of these boats have some issues, but I want one of them. “Lady” has the most issues, in that she is too long, too wide, and has that complicated sternwheel. She’d be a bitch to tow.
But what a boat. Do I compromise.. this time?
Hmm. The debate continues.. but one way or another.. I start building my next big boat within a few months, most likely this Winter. THAT is exciting.