Nothing to do for the rest of my life!

Though it sounds colourless it is a singular and empathic pleasure to have nothing to do for the rest of my life.  What little remains as an agenda on my electronic calendar (and perhaps, now that I think of it, for the rest of my life) is comfortably instructive rather than offensively obligatory. There is no pervading uncertainty. I believe the most urgent of my future obligations involve a haircut, laundry, housekeeping, Thanksgiving dinner, dental hygiene, flu vaccination, health card renewal, dividend payments and that sort of thing. Not exactly a latitude associated with production.

Maybe it is for that reason – the productivity feature – that I shamefully regale my current preoccupations. Indeed I proudly advertise the seeming limited enterprise on my blog website; viz., reading, writing, bicycling, piano, music, photography and motoring. I go so far as to add some of my jewel composers (dignity by association): Ludovico Einaudi, Roberto Cacciapaglia, Alexis Ffrench, Mahler, Bach, Alain Lefèvre. After practicing law for over 40 years I am content to confine my wool-gathering to limited though expressive absorption.

As I learned (almost the hard way) upon retirement there is a not uncommon predilection to jump out of the pan into the fire.  In my case it was a hopelessly amateur flirtation with public office albeit at the municipal level only.  By entire serendipity I was preserved torture in the burning flames by a sudden awakening (literally: two o’clock in the morning) upon our return from Fort Lauderdale to Almonte in July, 2014.  I telephoned the municipal office and left a message, withdrawing my nomination. Some would argue – and perhaps rightly so – that I missed a valuable opportunity. It would for example have been a treasure to have followed in the footsteps of my predecessor Raymond A. Jamieson, QC who served as Town Clerk and Solicitor during the 50 years of his law practice in Almonte (he was called to the Bar in 1921 and retired 1976 at 84 years of age).

My perspective is however less devoted; maybe even more sober when I recall the collection of empty booze bottles I discovered cached behind the books in Mr. Jamieson’s law library not to mention the hide-a-way bed in the walk-in vault.  Primarily I saw exposure to untold duties and obligations which if taken seriously (as naturally they should be) meant an equally prolonged fulfillment.  It also became curiously apparent to me that those in favour of my nomination were intent upon ensuring that I developed a line of cooperation in keeping with their private ambitions which at times conflicted with my own. In the result I felt that I could bear the deprivation of public service.

All this may have the tone of submission more than calculation but I have grown convinced of my determination to remove myself from speculative behaviour.  Oddly enough it has been a lingering characteristic of mine whether practicing law or playing tennis to devote myself most usefully and productively to undertakings of which I have either primary control or which are one-on-one for narrow focus. Some may say the psychology is driven by fear of inadequacy or of the unknown.  Or it may be as unglamorous as a reclusive limit upon adventure. My interpretation is by contrast spirited by the pragmatic adage, “Do what you do best and outsource the rest!”  It’s legitimacy is right up there with my late father’s stinging observation which he so often shared with me, “You can’t have money and things!”

Both aphorisms have withstood the test of time. If the object of life is happiness – presuming it is either necessary or useful to have an object – I am willing to throw the dice for the gamble that my instincts are as reliable to me as they are to the creatures in the wild. I have always harboured a deep seated view that we humans mistakenly distance ourselves from our animal heritage. I might also add that I see no indignity whatsoever in doing a good job of a small project. Celebrity is not about size but quality.

Here however the sinews of perfection are eclipsed by the natural degeneration of ageing. I am too far beyond youth to pretend to go back.  As a result I have learned to accept my accommodation.  It is an optical power tranquillised by the the predominantly selfish nature of retirement; it is an unnecessary purge to abandon the commercial analysis.