2017-08-16 / Editorials

Mike Reese

“I was just thinking”

My friend, the Meat Man, calls me when he reads something relevant, or funny. He calls me as soon as he reads it, or he’ll forget in a few seconds what he read. Fortunately, this one can be repeated in a family newspaper, and is both pertinent and humorous. My sense of humor and his are closely aligned. He read the following to me over the phone. “Inside every old man is a younger man wondering what the hell (WTH) happened?” If you’re over fifty-five I bet you totally understand. Because we share “eroding memoryitis”, an actual old people’s condition, I too wrote the quote down immediately after I tapped the call closed. I trust nothing to memory, but sometimes not remembering the meaning of my notes.

Hearing this quote made me think of another quote by Harper Lee in “To Kill A Mockingbird”. “There are just some people who are so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one.”

Living somewhere in between these two statements is probably the sweet spot we should shoot for, I think. The first quote refers to living mostly in the present, and later having to ask at some time, say around your Medicare eligible date, WTH happened?, and that’s a little depressing. And having concern only for the next world is no better. None of us lives forever, so the here and now is pretty important too. Nailing down that sweet spot is not easy calling for vigilance against the extremes of both life attitudes. I’ve probably come closer in my life living in accordance with the WTH quote. So I have to ask myself WTH happened to my blood pressure, my savings, my excess padding around my body’s equator. WTH is with this insomnia? Well, bad diet, lack of exercise, staying out and up too late, that’s WTH happened. And my savings, WTH happened there? Not that I ignored this area, but when financial advisors begin to advise me that I needed retirement funds percolating in the six (6) zeros area, my eyes glazed over. My breathing shortened. Something with five zeros would be great. That here and now voice always spoke louder to me than the future world voice. You’ve probably heard the here and now voice, too, as in—“Honey, that jet-ski price is too low to turn down, we’ll double up next year on our savings. I promise.” Blah, blah, blah.

I’ve written before about building memories and how important that is. You can’t invest memories in retirement funds, but I can invest them in my memory bank and it will cost me nothing to make memory withdrawals. So, WTH happened is that I’ve had a pretty good life overall and a good time, with enough memories in my memory bank to never be overdrawn. And I don’t think I can ever be accused of living in that group Harper Lee wrote about---“never learned to live in this world”- --I always tried to make more memory deposits, never wanting to be accused of carrying only the minimum memory balance.

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