Friday, March 16, 2001

I had a very interesting conversation with my father-in-law yesterday. In April he will be turning 79, and he is planning (financially) for his own demise. By his calculations, he can sell his home, invest the money (from which he will draw off the interest and a small portion of the principal) he and his wife can rent accomodations and still have enough to provide a comfortable living for the next ten years. He is a very pragmatic man (which I admire), but his wife is in total denial of the impending decision. I thought it was very interesting to see someone planning to take himself out of the group of producers and put himself (and his wife, by dependancy) into the group of those waiting to die.

So, the question is raised ... how long should one expect to live? With medical breakthroughs, the average life expectancy is rising. in 1900, the average life expectancy was around 50 years. By 1950, it had raised to over 65 years. By the mid-90's, it had gone past 76 years. The original idea of retiring sounds like a 20th century thing, starting (i'm guessing) in the 50s. The retirement age was set to around the average life expectancy - if you got past that, anything else was gravy. Usually, you would set aside some money to do a few really fun things before you shuffled off this mortal coil, and that was it. Now, everyone expects to stop working at 65 (or younger). Personally, I am pegging my life expectancy at about 90 years. That's considering:

  • I'm in moderately good health (don't smoke, etiher)
  • I live in a developed country with a decent health care system
  • I have fairly low stress in my life
  • job and lifestyle are not overly physically demanding

So, when should I expect to retire? Personally, I don't think retirement is a thing to shoot for. This Christian,"delayed gratification" thing is a bit over-rated. I see people in jobs that they hate, bound there by high income, feverishly working to pay down their mortgages and squirrelling away money with hopes of someday "retiring". The years that they are (often) rearing children, most physically able and adventurous are spent with their nose to the grindstone in some rotten existence? Not a good idea, by my calculations. Now, don't get me wrong, I think everyone should live within their means (as I try to). The opposite extreme of the scrimper-and-saver is those who live extravagant lives, over-extending themselves financially and living inches from disaster by paying mountains of interest to credit-giving companies. This is really the same thing, then. This person is trapped in their high- (hopefully) paying job, hating it all the while, but having to stay to keep up with payments.

I hope to find a position or vocation that provides me with a comfortable income, rewards and challenges that make me feel good about what I am doing, and then work at that position until I am about 80 years old. As I become less able to actually do the duties, I may fall into a mentor/instructor role, but I'll hopefully be involved. The big trick is, during the time that I am working, I plan to enjoy myself. That means regular vacations, as little corporate climbing as possible, lots of time with my kids, travel now (not "after I'm done working") and make my workplace a good environment for everyone that I can.

That doesn't mean that I will be at this one desk until I get the gold watch - I expect that my life will take me to many more companies and careers within that company. I just have decided to either enter into (or create when I get there) an environment of healthy balance. But then again, balance is what it's all about, right?


Another Weird Dream: I was travelling in strange city, by myself. I catch a ride from some woman in an golf-cart-ice-cream type truck. She turns out to be a early elementary school teacher, and she starts verbally flirting with me. I flirt back for a while, we have pleasant chit-chat back and forth, as she takes me on the tour of this city that I'm visiting (which I still don't recognize). The tour ends, we stop for dinner, then she asks me where things are going to go from here (wink wink). I hold up the hand with my wedding ring, she sees it, she smiles and asks me if I know where her husband is. She promptly vanishes, I'm standing by the ice cream truck and have to navigate my way back to wherever it was that I started from.

Maybe if I did more drugs, I'd understand what my subconscious was trying to tell me.

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