Soggy Sunday

Thankfully I awoke this morning before ten o’clock.  I glanced at my watch and muttered that I had spared myself two extra hours today.  Yesterday by contrast I had slept into the eleventh hour.  It was noon before I made any headway. Yet both nights before I had retired at a sensible hour, say 11:00 pm two nights ago, then 10:00 pm last night.  So it isn’t that I am going to bed late.  It appears to a congenital affliction of old age.  Sleeping.  My father was always snoozing on the garden deck in the summer. I remember wondering how he warmed to the custom so easily. Now I know. I regularly fall asleep for a short while after breakfast. And I feel better for it afterwards.  Just a short absence.

What bothers me most about the pervasive attraction of sleep is that at first blush its seems to interfere with a productive day.  Even when I recall that I haven’t a great deal to do, I nonetheless persist (at least in my mind) with what was then years of habit. Ritually I got up at seven o’clock in the morning, showered and ready for work by 8:30 am when customarily I checked into the Superior Restaurant for breakfast with my cronies. Then summarily usually by nine o’clock I was in my office at my desk undertaking the exigencies of the day.

Just imagining those erstwhile duties now exhausts me. I don’t regret retiring when I did. Work was a serious and demanding enterprise. Always having to do things, always fulfilling checklists, arranging meetings, drafting documents, studying title searches and related maps and deeds, channelling insurance companies and title insurers.

By comparison to the everyday working world, retirement is an incomparable breeze. Retirement is so far from the reality of “this for that” (or however else you might summarize the barter system which underlies it all) that often I feel as though I were living in an imaginery world. Equating oneself with an exchangeable commodity is more than metaphorical. People such as I (without the compelling fabric of children or grandchildren) are destined to a spluttering dénouement if other “worthy” applications are not undertaken.

No ethnographic studies have shown that any present or past society has used barter without any other medium of exchange or measurement, and anthropologists have found no evidence that money emerged from barter. Nevertheless, economists since the times of Adam Smith (1723–1790) often inaccurately imagined pre-modern societies as examples to use the inefficiency of barter to explain the emergence of money, of “the” economy, and hence of the discipline of economics itself.

Nonetheless I confess that on balance I am content with the inadequacy of my agenda on a soggy Sunday such as today, with the gentle rain sliding down its continuously augmented pools of water along the glass of the 9′ windows overlooking the river and fields. I think I’ll lie down for a moment and rest.