I can’t remember when I was born. There’s a birth certificate, which in today’s bureaucratic world proves it happened.
I can’t remember turning ten. There may have been a party, I can only remember one from childhood, but I don’t know if it was that.
Turning twenty happened in college, a time when I was averaging three hours of sleep a night, with no allowances for celebrations.
Turning thirty only had one main urgent message which was that, if I wanted to be a father, now was a good time to find a wife. I was married a few years later.
Forty approached with friends making fun of how they’d prank me. I had enough stress from work and home life that a series of practical jokes weren’t what I wanted. Instead, I took my first ski trip, three days at Silver Star Resort in British Columbia. That set the tone for several years. I was starting to see how the wealthy lived and played because I’d been retired for a little under two years.
Fifty came by after the divorce, and as money was getting tight. Optimism encouraged me to continue my new tradition of a ten-day ski vacation. Surely my stocks would recover. The companies were succeeding technically. But I felt restrained. My one indulgence of the year had become a time for introspection.
Sixty comes after My Triple Whammy, an entry into a new career (I’ve lost count because is a job a career if it doesn’t net a profit?), and my indulgence has been to only answer a few phone calls and several emails for work. (There’s some good news there, but that’ll be part of another post.) Proper introspection and retrospection take time, and time is a luxury.
I’m much more aware of time. One of the great lessons from frugality has been that time is the most precious resource. At least for now, I don’t know how to make more time. I’ve turned sixty, but mentally I feel like 42 while physically I feel like 52.
We sit in an era when it is possible, and debatably probable, that some people will live decades or centuries longer than what has been normal; and that, if they can live that long, then they are effectively immortal. (Though not invulnerable. Accidents do happen.) Despite that possibility, I recognize that such an advance will probably be expensive and limited, at first. Thanks to investing in Dendreon, Asterias, and Geron, I’ve seen such technologies advance without much public attention. Whether the breakthroughs happen when they can benefit me is unknowable.
Lifespan is an issue that is fragmenting into more precise understandings. Life expectancy is a number, but that number is different between rich and poor, changes with regions, and is only now being understood genetically.
There’s an obvious money aspect. Personal finance is quite abstract at twenty, but outliving one’s savings is very real for most of the population who can see the end from here. About a third of the elderly population (that’s not me, is it?) have little or no savings for retirement. I don’t have enough, but I’m rapidly approaching my own version of enough, again. Re-retirement is possible. Let me check those lottery tickets – and answer a few more client phone calls. Re-accumulating wealth is greatly enabled by living a frugal lifestyle. Among the many skills I’ve tried to learn, frugality is one that I’ve practiced well enough that an even more frugal friend decided to give me the title of Mr. Frugal. I bow to those who exceed my skills.
Time is on my mind, however. How do I spend my time? Nothing dramatic is planned to change with the passing of what is really just another day, but I am already able to count the seasons possibly remaining. I bicycled across America in 2000, walked across Scotland in 2010, hope to do something similar in 2020, but how about 2030? 2040? How many more ski seasons, hiking seasons, holiday seasons remain? Recovering from My Triple Whammy meant missing out on dozens of backpacking trips, a loss of physical fitness, and a drop in confidence. Some impressive friends have turned themselves from sedentary to athletic after they turned sixty. I know it’s possible, but I also know it took great effort and sacrifice.
How did I ever take care of a suburban house, and yet go backpacking or cross-country skiing almost every weekend? Will it take the same effort and sacrifice as then, or was that only possible by being thirty?
I wish I had the time to consider that more. But, re-retirement requires its own effort and sacrifice. Taking the time to think and plan takes time that could provide the income that could fund the time to think and plan properly. It is a common conundrum.
At least I’ve learned to trust my intuition, to recognize that one of my skills is persistence, and that a lifetime of questioning values means I know that I am chasing my goals, not those of everyone else’s expectations or some advertiser’s imaginary dream.
Will I make it to seventy, eighty, and beyond? Check back in ten, twenty, and more years.
In the meantime, I’m dining on left-over pizza (gluten-free) and getting ready to go dancing (in shorts, of course) while checking for any urgent emails (no? great!). Looking back and looking ahead is valuable, but enjoying now is all we can ever experience.