Monday, November 8, 2010

Retirement decision analysis and random thoughts

Well I most definitely made the right decision to retire. It's not like making that decision was killing me (it was a bit stressful), but you will always second guess a decision like that. I mean I CAN still walk and talk and type and all that stuff. It just had been reinforced the past few weeks how much being kinder to my body and taking the time to take care of myself has been a very good thing.

I could probably carry on about the reasons why, but it has literally taken about a month for my knee screaming to go down to just a raised voice. Had I been working this entire time, I can almost guarantee that my knee would have just fallen right off my leg. And you all know how important knees can be. But I digress. You all know I come on here to 'work shit out', so I'm trying, sometimes in vain, to come to grips with envying people's walking ability. I was in church Sunday looking around at folks I didn't even know just walking around with their kids not caring about how many steps they were taking. Not caring about "if I go over here and get this, I won't be able to go over there and get that". And just generally being themselves, ie, not thinking about the energy it takes to walk 100ft and if you'll have the strength to do it or not. I was one of those really content guys when the hammer dropped. I really was about as content as I'd ever been. Now you guys also know that I like to be proactive in thinking about stuff I know I'm going to have to deal with.

I mean you have the envy thing, not being a bitter handicapped guy, not being depressed; all of that type of stuff that I feel I ought to try my hardest to head off before it's on top of me. How to keep the monkeys in their cages I guess. I come on here lots to talk about how I'm going to make sure that this or that trap doesn't 'get me'. So why is it so damn hard for me to NOT accept my lot in life as it comes to getting around? I mean I've done a good job of accepting what this f-in' disease has thrown at me I do believe. However, for months now I can hardly watch a commercial where a guy is walking around an amusement park, or a ball game or whatever, without feeling the pang of jealousy. But I think I have it figured out. I have really been able to come to grips with the things about my health that I've able to grieve as a loss. I think it's that simple. I mean I HAVE grieved the loss of my career and am OK with it. I'm on the other side of it now where I don't look at people who are working with envy anymore. It's just right now what's getting to me is people simply walking around when I know they can just decide on a Saturday morning "I think I'll clean out the gutters today". It's that type of stuff that has been just killing me for some reason.

I think the reason it's so hard is that I HAVE NOT grieved the loss of my ability to walk because I still freakin' can. I mean I don't walk well at all anymore in the grand scheme of things. But if you catch me after I've sat around for a bit and I get up and walk 20 yards or so, you'd never even notice my disability. But give me 40 yards and I get to a point where my legs feel like they're made of concrete and I'm bouncing off the walls; literally. BUT I still can walk and I still consider myself fully ambulatory. Just don't make me walk very far. So since I want to stay like this, am I stuck being green with envy about people being who they are simply because I can't grieve it? I can't stay that way, but I also can't grieve the loss of something I haven't totally lost. I mean I've lost 90% of the potential and function of walking compared to a few years ago, but I'm still doing it. So as I'm thinking about this, it kind of hit me that the reason I've been feeling this way is I don't have anything else really going on. I mean I'm being a good housekeeper and all of that type of stuff, but I need some direction.

Our lives are defined by a series of accomplishments. You accumulate them. When you're done with one, you drive a stake in the ground and move on (forward) to the next one. So I think it's more feeling like I've lost the ability to have a direction since I've left work. I mean your direction is kind of built in to your job. Just maintaining the house is not the same as improving the house. So that's what I think I'm going to do. I'm going to work on the house. It won't be easy, but I've got all the time in the world; as long as I stay as healthy as I am now. I can tear a wall out a teeny bit at a time. I mean who cares if it takes ten days to do what used to take 4 hours? I'm home and I need some direction, something to accomplish to move forward, whatever.

Just because you can't do it all, just because you can't even come close to accomplishing what you could get done even months ago, does not mean you should just quit trying to accomplish stuff. It is a requirement for humans I do believe. Once I have a purpose, it's amazing what happens to my demeanor. At any rate, sitting around is not even what I wanted to do in my retirement, but you get so down about hardly being able to exert any effort, I didn't realize that I had just quit trying to exert any! I mean I was always 'saving it up' for work. That's not part of the equation anymore, and this was exactly why. Work was taking more than all of my energy. I couldn't do a damn thing after work, yet you still have kids, wives, lives, yada yada, so you do it anyway. Well I was making myself much worse. But I pulled back too far. Even when I lose the ability to even do 10 minutes of work with my hands in between hour breaks, I'm still going to need a purpose. If you have no purpose, what's the fippin' point? I mean that figuratively of course but really?, what is the point?

We all need a purpose; that much is clear and probably why I still will recommend as often as I can "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankl. I'm telling you, it only takes about a day to read. I mean I'm not saying anyone who feels they don't have a purpose should eat a bullet, but I am saying that if you don't have one, you should set about getting one! So since I can't impress anymore with my accumulated accomplishments, I'm just going to have to be fine with doing what I can do to feel useful. It beats the shit out of sitting around; although of course there is always a time and place for that, it just shouldn't be all you do!