Sunday, May 5, 2019

I have nothing else to do

A friend sent me an email this morning.  In it he apologetically reported having spent 2½ hours at the gym earlier because he had "nothing else to do". It was intended primarily as a joke - he had previously told me in the same email that he was working on editing a judgment he had written recently and that he had a matter upon which to adjudicate tomorrow - but there was nonetheless a hint of asperity in what he wrote. In general terms he is retired from the practice of law. From time to time he acts as a deputy justice of the court; and he edits jurisprudence previously published. The bald truth is that for some people retirement of any character is fraught with the poison that one has quit. There is something compelling - and apparently legitimizing - about having to work for a living, being obliged to get out of bed to do what must of necessity be done.

This is not a condition from which I suffer. When I am asked - as often I am - whether I miss the practice of law my instant retort is "No!"  This is not because I disliked my profession - far from it - but rather because when I turned that page, I never looked back. Asking me whether I enjoyed a toothsome meal doesn't imply I have the paramount intention to eat it again. Each performance of my career was an isolated instance; its accomplishment concluded the event and heralded the next step. Never did I fashion one retainer alike another - except perhaps in a global sense of involving real estate, corporations or estate planning (the arenas to which I confined my engagement).  Otherwise the particulars of each was as varied as the people for whom I acted; and I would no more think of repeating one or the other.

For me the harshest recognition upon retirement is the acceptance that almost all of my social connections were with clients - a fact which unwittingly unfolded to my initial disconcert when the relationship ended. Retirement was akin to dropping a tiny bowl of perfume into a sea of water - an immediate and utter dilution. When once I had overcome the reputed discomfort of this evolution my transition into the vaporized ether of retirement was considerably more favourable.

Like my learned friend I haven't much else to do either. However I don't use the lack of commerce to diminish the value of exercise for example. In fact I am rather proud to say I bicycle almost every day of the year. Acquainting myself with indolence has required substantial effort on my part - learning to listen to my appetite for an afternoon nap; to avoid accepting an invitation to a social gathering in which I have no personal interest; submitting to the luxury of reading or writing in the middle of the night over black coffee; limiting my agenda to matters of personal satisfaction or necessity; and refusing to buy semi-formal or formal clothing. There are as well certain mandatory philosophic admissions to be addressed: aging, mortality and posterity - virtually mirror images of what confounds one's thoughts at the other end of the spectrum (youth, life and the future). Insinuating the entire mess is the proverbial adage that we owe it to ourselves to relish whatever time remains.  It's pretty clinical this business of living.

When not stewing over my current medical complaints, I divert myself by thrilling to the texture of the things which surround me - everything from art to music to literature to architecture to personal possessions to beauty of almost any expression. I feel I have awoken to a new scope of vision in my later years. For one thing, I have removed myself from the strictly proprietary attraction (in which I include the visceral seats of appetite). No doubt it matters that my sight is no longer fogged by distilled liquor, an elevation which has unfolded but gradually and almost imperceptibly over the past 5½ years.

I omitted to mention technology as a specific absorption. Technology has become the precious Persian upon which so many of the traditional sources of beauty and amusement reside. I listen to Ludovico Einaudi streamed from Apple Music through my AirPods on my iPhone.  I read books from iTunes on my iPad. I capture photographs of my favourite landscapes and pictures electronically. My automobile is a computer on wheels, guiding me to my destination, keeping me between the lines and alerting me to obstruction.  The latest culinary rage is non-dairy meat. I haven't yet discovered a workable pain killer - neither medicinal marijuana, hemp CBD nor whatever is currently being sold as legalized pot - but overall the progress is for me energizing if not indeed purifying.

No comments:

Post a Comment