Day 436

Tonight I was chatting with a buddy of mine about how long it’s been since I “retired.” Of course, I’ve got a spreadsheet that counts the days for me solely for the purpose of being able to quickly label these ever-so-sporadic posts of acclimation to a purposeless life at 44 years old. Note that I’m 45 now since it’s been 436 days since the last day I earned money in the traditional sense of employment. Technically, I’ve only been officially without a job since July 1st of this year, but I’m not going to count the unpaid leave of absence. 

Anyway, call it curiosity… or rather morbid curiosity, but I was wondering how many days the titles here might end up counting. Cue up the IRS actuarial tables. A 45 year old has an average life expectancy of 83 years. Multiplied by 365 days per year, I’m looking at another 16,342 days. 

Wow. 

That’s a lot of days to aimlessly exist. 

Not that I’m entirely aimless. I keep myself occupied even though I have no primary overarching occupation. 

Here’s the sticking point of the last 436 days: my benchmarks and statistics inform me that maintaining my relatively modest, but by no means austere, lifestyle, I needn’t fret about running out of money unless I outlive not only the actuarial average, but my genetic history. 

But, as all studies of market performance warn: past performance is not indicative of future returns. A chance exists, even if it is small, that I’ll outlive my ability to fund myself. 

That’s one part of the equation. Moving on to a much more humane perspective, there’s a hope for expanding one’s lifestyle throughout working years to enjoy during retirement. The tradeoff there, of course, is spending those younger, healthier years employed in the hopes of having health and vitality to enjoy some years before age takes hold. 

I’ve recently had a “scare” involving getting older. Diverticulitis. While the symptoms have passed, there’s still a chance that I’ll need a surgery. I’m not sure if having a section of intensines removed is considered a major or minor surgery, but I do know that if it does come to pass, and it is successful, it won’t impact my overall health and vitality. In fact, it may improve it. 

Still, it’s starting to hit me fully: the bliss of not having to get up for work tomorrow… or the next day… or the next month… or the next decade. What else is starting to fully hit me is the utter and complete lack of purpose. Now, I’ve got to clarify, I’ve never really felt a strong sense of meaning in life. I can distill pretty much everything to effectively being trivial. Yes, I know that’s a sad, pathetic outlook on life, and that arguments can be made for actions and events that have significant impact. I don’t have the motivation at the moment to defend my perspective that the Black Plague, the sinking of the Titanic, or Fatman and Little Boy were meaningless. Of course they weren’t meaningless. Nor is the death of any individual meaningless. That’s my point, is the death of Captain E. J. Smith in 1912 any more tragic than any of the countless people that died yesterday in a myriad of ways? 

Rambling now. Back to the main thing prompting me to write something tonight: the aimlessness I possess regarding the next sixteen-and-halfish thousand days. I’m not concerned about boredom or inability to keep myself occupied. In fact, if it weren’t for external judgements of others burdened with having to justify employment in the traditional sense in order to stay sane, I probably wouldn’t even ponder the concept of aimlessness. 

I wonder how folks born into wealth achieve a sense of purpose… or if these matters cross their mind at all. 

I mean, for the majority of us, we work with the hopes to someday retire comfortably. And once retirement is achieved certain routines have become ingrained, and there are kids and grandkids to be involved with. 

Here I am contemplating having children after retiring. Backwards. I dunno. Maybe I’ve been dead this entire time and am living toward being born. Only to be born in an old and failing body. 

And there it is. There it is. At 45 years old, I feel like I’m in the prime of my life AND I have the ability to fully enjoy it beyond the weekends and a two week vacation each year. 

And what do I enjoy? Sleeping the day away and puttering around all night playing video games or contemplating my purpose while staring at the back of my eyelids. I’m content. It seems like a waste. I’m in a state of blissful peace. Others are so much more deserving. I’m overjoyed with having nothing to do tomorrow. Someone else would be motivated to make an impact. 

That someone else could be… should be… me. 

And, so, 436 days after I left traditional employment, having recuperated, looking at a still overwhelming “to do” list of things that aren’t really all that important, the thoughts are starting to take root… it’s time to consider what I want my purpose to be. It’s time to aim toward something. 

I don’t mean tomorrow. It might take another year before I am actually able to focus on something. Maybe it will take a year just to narrow down the focus to a few possibilities. 

Nonetheless, I’m happy to admit that I’m starting to have a desire to not be utterly aimless. And, honestly, that’s a good feeling. I was somewhat concerned that it took me longer to decompress than I thought it would. I figured it would take me twice as long to get antsy. And, I figured that I would pass through a stage of melancholy and/or boredom first. 

Instead, I’m at a place of contented *shrug*. Not feeling pressured to “do something,” but also feeling like I shouldn’t waste this opportunity. And seeing that number of 16,342, I don’t feel guilty if the number dwindles to fifteen thousand something before I get focused on a target to aim at. 

Everyone deserves to have the ability to take as long as necessary to find their purpose instead of stabbing at the most readily available target then spending a lifetime convincing themselves that’s what they were aiming at all along. 

And, by God, if I determine my purpose is to achieve a Gamerscore of 100,000 on Xbox, so be it. Although I think it’s pretty safe to say that, although that’s a current potential possibility, it is NOT the target that will be chosen. (Currently my Gamerscore is 24,422 just in case I end up at 100,000 before finding my true purpose… and if I do, Dana, it might be time to suggest finding an old-person eSports league.) 

4:10am

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Day 424 (Whoo… that hurt.)

Twelve days ago on Tuesday, July 25th, I started to have an uncomforable feeling in my abdomen. I thought it was just gas. The next day I went kayaking for a few hours. By that evening, the uncomfortable feeling moved up to the scale to qualifying as painful.

Thursday and Friday that week were miserable. I was taking some supplemental fiber and drinking some Pepto Bismol. Dana wanted me to drag my ass to the doctor, but, of course, I wasn’t quite ready for that yet.

By Saturday morning, I was.

We spent some time at an Urgicare clinic where the waiting room was hot and the pain was becoming worse. The nurse practitioner there diagnosed the problem as constipation and prescribed polyethylene glycol and suggested guzzling milk of magnesia. Which I did, then spent a lot of time becoming intimate with my toilet Saturday night and most of Sunday.

Monday morning, six days ago now, the pain was past the 10 on the pain scale. I don’t really get that pain scale. If 10 is the worst possible pain, I consider that to be on the level of torture: knee caps broken, blow torch to soles of feet, eyelids ripped off… that sort of thing. So I’m never really comfortable qualifying any pain I’m experiencing as a 10. That is, until the pain is unbearable, then the scale is entirely meaningless and I start quantifying the level as 14 or 86 or I want to die.

I got into my doctor for a 3:30 appointment, by 7:00 I visited the hospital, had a CT Scan, and a prescription for a couple different antibiotics.

Whew! Diverticulitis. That is some seriously unfun stuff.

By Tuesday morning the pain had become debilitating. My doctor prescribed some Tylenol and codeine. Oh, and a clear liquid diet.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday last week were terrible. Intense, eye-tearing pain. No food. pondering if there were any glaring omissions in my estate planning.

Finally Friday, the searing pain like someone repeatedly stabbing my lower left abdomen with a triple bladed knife subsided to just feeling like I was being punched over and over again. Bliss. I also had an appetite enough for some beef broth and jello. My God! Food never tasted so good… and that was still technically the stuff of a clear liquid diet.

Yesterday, Saturday, I was feeling functional again. Although the lack of calories was apparent. And about 4am, I had such an intense craving for french toast, I drove out to Meijer to get a frozen box and ended up walking out with a cheesecake danish to boot.

Here I am on Sunday afternoon. I’m back to that uncomfortable feeling like I’ve got a bit of gas. I’ll take it over what I just went through.

Between keto and diverticulitis I’ve learned more about food, digestion, and eating in the past two months than I ever have. I’ve lost about 20 pounds since the middle of June. Granted, I expect some of that to come back on now that I’m not terrified about what eating will do to my lower body, but still. I’ve got another 30 pounds to shed to reach my goal weight.

One another note: After finding myself sucked into trivial videos of Epic Fails, recipes, and who knows what else, I unfollowed a majority of people from my friends’ list. I’ve kept it to family, friends that I talk to, and friends that I think about talking to, with a couple of others that tend to post some stuff I actually find interesting not distracting numbness.

Something else occurred during the past couple of weeks’ ordeal: I felt boredom. Boredom, to me, is the inability to entertain oneself — even if that means popping on a television show that one finds entertaining. I have enough things that trigger despair that boredom has no place in my life. And, given my circumstances, something I have great concern about succumbing to. I’m sure that feeling was evoked my debilitating pain and a clear liquid diet with an extreme calorie deficiency, but it was significant enough to cause many of my recent musings about the need to “reset” to be scoffed at.

2:44pm