by James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, January 24, 2017
It feels like I’m in a faster rat race now, in retirement than when I worked. I haven’t published anything at this blog for twelve days. I have all my time free, but every night I go to bed wishing I had more. I mostly work at writing essays. I’ve started a couple dozen in January, and they are in various stages of completion.
Four were published at Book Riot this month:
- Adulthood and the Fading Appeal of Our Favorite Book Series
- Hi, I’m A Book Addict
- What To Read After Watching The OA
- Wisdom of Lists: Best Nonfiction 2016
And a couple at Worlds Without End:
I’ve been trying to find time to get back into programming. I have an idea for a little program I want to develop to help me manage book lists, but I just can’t get down to work. I keep thinking I want to embrace Python and dedicate myself to learning it. But it’s not GUI based, so I wonder if I should be more ambitious and aim for C#. But that might be as realistic as wanting to become a rock star this late in life. I keep watching documentaries about computer history and they make me want to play with computers. I sometimes wistfully wonder if that time in my life is over.
I also wanted to start learning how to draw, but I keep putting it off. I did start coloring. Here’s my third effort. Coloring is a pleasant activity to do while listening to an audiobook or visiting with a friend.
I hope I stick with it and see if I can develop a sense of color. It might inspire me to eventually try drawing. I know my work above is about what a second grader could do, but I sense I have room to progress, even at age 65.
Here’s one from my friend Connell sent me, which I like a lot. He got into coloring and it inspired me to give it a try.
Of course I’ve been watching a lot of TV. My recent favorites are The Crown, The OA, Victoria, Chance, and The Man in the High Castle season 2. I’ve gotten out of the habit of watching a Perry Mason every night, and I miss that. I went to lunch with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years and found out she watches Perry every night at 10:30. That makes me want to get back into that habit. (Time, time, time…)
Which brings up the topic of routines. Retired life is one of routines. My usual routine is to get up, shower, exercise, eat breakfast, and then start writing. If I’m lucky, I’ll write for hours and exhaust myself. I then eat a late lunch, followed by a nap in the den while listening to loud music (mostly jazz of late). I love listening to music while drifting in and out of sleep.
After I get up, usually around four, I wish I could squeeze in a new hobby around this time. But often this is my social time. Friends come over to watch TV, and sometimes stay for dinner. I like having people over in the afternoon or evening to watch TV, and consider TV watching a wonderful social activity. I would never want to give up social time for another hobby, but I still wish I could squeeze a couple more hobbies into my routine.
However, if I’m not socializing I usually end up reading. I just don’t have the energy to write at night, nor start up a new project like programming. I have discovered I can muster the energy to color and listen to an audiobook, or color and listen to an old favorite movie. The other night I colored while watching an old John Wayne movie. That’s rather a strange contrast, don’t you think? The childlike pleasure of coloring while listening to people violently killing one another.
I bought myself a little mini-MIDI keyboard for Christmas, but I’ve yet to make it work with the software that came with it. I leave myself so little creative energy after I stop writing that I don’t have none left to even figure this out. But that’s what I dream of doing. I know this will sound like a Catch-22, but I want to do something creative that’s not writing, and not give up writing either, but it seems I’d have to give up writing to do it. I hate to think I’m a one hobby person. I’ve wondered about setting aside some days for writing, and dedicate other days when I’m mentally fresh to try something new and different. On the other hand, if I don’t write during the day, I feel like I wasted that day.
In some ways I feel the movie Lifeboat is a great metaphor for getting old. The characters in the lifeboat have limited resources to survive, and must ration them out carefully. But instead of food and water, I have to ration mental energy.
Oh, I have been reading some great essays lately:
- “I Spent 5 Years with Some of Trump’s Biggest Fans. Here’s What They Won’t Tell You.”
- “The Best and Worst Presidential Memoirs”
- “Robert Reich: 7 Hard Truths Democrats Must Acknowledge If They Want A Better Future”
- “This Awesome Periodic Table Shows the Origins of Every Atom in Your Body”
- “Democrats in the Wilderness”