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I Hate Old People

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback since I’ve been writing here.  I’ve gotten in touch with people important to me from my past.  I’ve even gotten some negative anonymous internet comments, which according to Ramit is a hugely encouraging sign, since it means people (of all types) are reading.

A sentiment recycled again and again says the quickest way to fail is to try to please all the people all the time.  I’m probably a little guilty of that, in that I very carefully screen lots of content from my public writing that I deem too controversial (politics, social issues, the music of Prince, etc.).

What I want to address today is OLD PEOPLE!  I linkbaited you in with my title, because I actually love old people, and in fact I aspire to be one some day.  Time is relative, and by my calculations, I already am old.  So why do people think I hate old people?

In this post I made this statement:

Delayed gratification would be the choice to work hard until age 65 or 70, then being able to support a “continuous vacation” retirement of worldwide jet-setting, cruising, golf, a house in The Villages: extreme and frequent consumption.  Such retirees are not incapable of enjoying their hard earned retirement, but they have traded the best years of their life for a long vacation in the increasingly arthritic, childless and variously dysfunctional (use your imagination) years.

From feedback I’ve gotten from my friends (and especially various members of my family) this quotation seems to be the most controversial thing I’ve ever written!  I still stand behind what I wrote, but let me make it clear exactly what I mean.

  • First and foremost, if you work hard and love your job, keep doing it.   The point I was making throughout the article is that life is all about finding what you like to do and doing it.  MOST of the people I talk to would prefer to be doing something other than doing a traditional 9-5 job working “for the man.”  If you love it, and can’t wait to do it, then keep doing it!!!
  • Second, the dysfunctional and arthritic part is talking about me.  I have family history of all sorts of arthritis, and already today at 35 I can’t raise my left arm above my shoulder level without intense pain.  While I’m probably in the best physical condition of my life, if the next ten years yield as much decline as the previous ten years, I’ll be in big trouble.  My point was not to wait for age 65 or 70 or 80 to START doing what you really want to do.
  • Finally, I don’t think you have to have children to be happy.  I know a lot of people who do nothing but complain about their children’s expenses and needs for time.  I want to grab them by the shoulders and scream “why did you want to have kids anyway!!!” and often, “why do you keep having them???”  Conversely, I know lots of people who haven’t had children that seem very happy- at least, the things they complain about are high-order “first world problems” (can’t decide whether to ski in the Alps or Japan this year, tired and bored of the nicest restaurant in town ).  What I was trying to convey is that if you DO have kids, the imperative is to free up time to spend with them while they’re young.  That window of opportunity will close soon.  See this post on temporal wealth and the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” for further elaboration.

Here’s the point I was trying to make.

Everyone has different intelligence, different looks, different financial resources, and different hopes and desires.  But everyone has exactly the same amount of time.  Whether you’re a billionaire or a member of an uncontracted tribe in the rainforest, you have exactly 24 hours in each day and an uncertain number of days remaining.

If you love your 8-5 career job and can’t wait to leap up every day and do it, then you’ve won the game of life!  Keep doing what you’re doing, this post and the previous post are not for you.

But if you start feeling a deep, hollow dread Sunday evening, and come home emotionally exhausted and bitter with nothing left for yourself or your family every day, if you can’t enjoy Saturday because Monday is only two days away, then there is an alternative.  Don’t wait for retirement to start enjoying life.  That’s the one point I hope people take away from that post.

Bronnie Ware, a hospice nurse, documented the top five regrets of the dying.  I haven’t read it, but she eventually expanded her thoughts into a book (linked below).  I would encourage you to apply these principles to your life, not before you get OLD, but before you get any OLDER than you already are.

 

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

 

Are you expressing these, especially #1 and #2, through your career?  Don’t wait until you’re way older to have a continuous vacation retirement, start living your life so that your weekdays and weekends look the same.  Then you’ll be experiencing Continuous Gratification.

That’s all I have to say about that!

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