As the year comes to a close, I always like to look back, pose some questions, and offer some reflections that simply allow me to meander rather than create a clean, structured, and poignant essay as I always do 🙂
Age & Transitions
I’ve said more than I want to about retirement on the blog because I have been looking that transition in the face up close now for the past year. Though I’m still on the payroll until May, my professorial duties at St. Edward’s University are now done. Nothing more really to add, other than I’m looking forward to the change, more time to myself, and creating opportunities where I can. I have established many contacts on Facebook who are high school friends, and it’s weird (and rather comical at times) to hear all of us discussing our entrance into the Septuagenarian crowd. One friend said, Just imagine! In ten years we’ll be 80. Hold on, Pal. Let’s take it a day at a time, not a decade in one full sweep. Another friend offered that he is now only fourteen-years-old because he was born on February 29th. Whatever helps you get by.
I now reflect on what being seventy-years old meant to be when I was kid. I can hear myself saying, Wow, that’s old. And now I say, It’s not all that old. Is it? My grandfather died in 1959 at sixty-four-years old. Of course I was only eleven at the time, but I remember his looking old. The reason for that is obvious. He worked the oil fields, roughnecked oil rigs, farmed, and didn’t have that many vacations and holidays. He, in addition to my parents, didn’t want that kind of life for me. As I look back on things, they were more right and loving than I gave them credit for while in my twenties. I have worked several dock jobs while in school and thought I could do this for a long time without any problems. Yeah, right. My dock jobs were summer jobs between school years and did not take place anywhere near the conditions in which my grandfather worked. My dad as well endured some harsh work conditions. When he was a kid, dad had worked those oil rigs with granddad. Then he graduated to being a machinist, working in oil manufacturing plants, fifty to sixty hours per week. He didn’t want that kind of life for me either. It’s not that parents were wrong for wanting their children to have better opportunities. In fact, those who thought that way were indeed very loving. But they may have doted on us Baby Boomers a little too much. And man, did we soak it up.
Speaking of Age & Retirement: Social Security
I watched a short video from Prager University the other day, discussing the concerns with Social Security. Whether or not we want to admit it, concerns do exist. The statistic they mentioned is alarming. When Social Security was initiated, there were over 500 people to every retiree. The average life expectancy at that time was 60. Today the average life expectancy is 79. There are now 2.8 people to every retiree. One cannot help but wonder how long Social Security can hold up. Individuals has best carve out their lives the best they can without depending on government programs. The problem with Social Security is that the money that may go down the drain is money that people worked for.
I wrote a blog sometime back on making sure that I want to celebrate Christmas and what it’s all about, separate from the commercialism that has overtaken this time of season across the decades. I love the Christmas season. First, I believe in what it’s about. Second, the time of year is a joyous one for me. I’ve learned to avoid the madding crowd of shoppers, while at the same time finding ways to take from the festivities in ways that I enjoy. Peace, quiet, and reflection is what I hope to accomplish during this time of year. I believe in my need for a Savior because I know of what I’m made. By my actions I remind myself much too often of that fact. So Christmas is a time of year for me to worship, read, reflect, meditate, and find the calm and rest. I’ve let too many Christmases go by without adhering to that call. So I welcome this time of year and what it’s about for those of us who believe in what it’s about.
Work & Productivity
I’m not sure what the future holds for me as I move forward now, giving up professorial duties. I like the sound of that phrase, professorial duties. I know my private practice will be part of that future. But I’m not sure just how much I really want to expand that practice as it sets now. Writing appears to be on my mind. What would be my dream scenario, throwing out all reality checks and delving into the most extreme of wish fulfillment? I would like to get about eight hours of sleep per night, get up at about six o’clock in the morning, have my morning coffee, and prayer and meditation time, and then write the entire day with a break for lunch and dinner, working until about ten o’clock at night. I would use the weekend to buy groceries and run other errands. Yes, that is unreal. Reading, social connections, and exercise time needs to make their way into that schedule, as well as giving the brain a rest. Since I am a Septuagenarian, my brain may need more rest than it thinks. All that I want to do with my writing forms a good blog article in-and-of-itself that I will put down in writing one of these days.
No Comment. No comment, other than the notion that I would love to see the day when politics are totally unimportant.
Most everyone already thinks that philosophy is unimportant. They prefer politics to philosophy. Oh well, yes there is a hell on earth. Presently I’m getting set to delve into a reading titled, How to Be a Stoic, authored by Massimo Pigliucci. It sounds like a rather self-defeating title to me. How can you read about how to become a stoic and then become one? However I love the subtitle of the book: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life. There are components of stoicism that I like. It meshes well with meditative readings like the Book of Ecclesiastes, the Psalms, and the Book of Proverbs. And modern life with all its divisiveness, lack of reason, and the politicizing of all life needs some help. Or better put, those of us trying to live through modern life without getting scathed by it need some help. So I need to schedule in some reading, studying, and reflecting during that day between six o’clock in the morning and ten o’clock at night. Somebody please help me.
For all practical purposes, I’ve already nixed television from my life. I rarely have the boob tube on anymore. When I do want to relax, I kick back and listen to some Jazz, particularly the Cool Jazz era of Coltrane, Getz, Davis, and others. Uh-oh! Something else to schedule in the day – relaxation time and music. I see now why it’s so hard to take time to write. I keep finding things I need to stuff between the hours of six a.m. and ten p.m. But at least television is fading away into the netherworld of my life. What a gift to sanity that is.
I’m making no promises. But as I look back over my past blogs, I think I want more of a consistent theme regarding what I write about on this page. Perhaps yearly themes that do not tightly structure what I write, but provide what I write with some kind of substantive framework. Maybe? Who knows? I want to delve somewhat more into neuroscience, but I sure as hell don’t want to write about topic for an entire year. That tidbit will have to fit into a larger scope. A few more book reviews are in store. And perhaps some short biographies will make their way onto this page. These are all just meandering thoughts right now. After all, that’s the title of this blog.
Since not all of my blogs refer to my work as a counselor, I’ve been thinking about separating this blog from my counseling page. I haven’t come to any conclusions as yet. Past blogs have ventured into several thematic areas, and maybe a cafeteria style of blog is still the best. What hits me at the moment about which I want to write? That’s something I’ll weigh out over the next year. What’s fun about the direction of my blog is that it’s my blog. I can do with it whatever I want. Creativity is a theme that interests me, and as such, I will move forward, continuing to create this blog. Now that’s a good positive thought on which to wind the year down.
Back to Christmas
Peace to you all.
John V. Jones, Jr., Ph.D., LPC-S/December 14th, 2017