Today marks two years for me. I left IT and retired and the next day flew to Japan for weeks. Then it was Vietnam for 6 months. I just wandered all around then. Got to see so many places. Some became my places. Others I would only visit once. Then came the trip back to the US after two months in Taiwan, a short trip to Philippines and back to Kuala Lumpur. Vietnam and Cambodia too. I lived in Cambodia for some months. I received a retirement extension for a year there. That came up last October so I would visit Saigon and then go to Taiwan.
So many yet so few places. Others see and count cities and countries and continents. I punted on that. I counted moments and experiences. Perhaps it’s why in December when visiting the US but even before I knew I would get the year long visa for Vietnam. The goal always was to stop the wandering and find a day to day thing. A home for awhile.
I’ve also looked at friends. They are trapped by their stuff whether it’s real or existential. Their lives revolve around stuff. More stuff. More travel that’s less. Debt that sinks them. Homes that bury them. I figured out retirement though is not supposed to just be a continuation of misery. My ex wife was fond of saying,
misery is optional
And it is. But we never listen to those other drummers as Thoreau said. They are too measured and we believe life is meant to get old and sit at McDonald’s and play cribbage. Watch the other old retired guys wander. No more adventure or mystery. No people that matter or not. Both types of person can show you a thing or three.
But I watch them and their lives careen from disappointment to accomplishment. But each measure is off. We always have both but I believe with more stuff the disappointment is more keenly felt when you must have more. Achievement is fleeting. You don’t have a measure for joy in it. It’s another measure of what again Thoreau called quiet desperation.
We are made of star stuff and dreams and wonder. The universe peeks out from our souls. Somehow though we lose track of it all. Negative and positive. Good and bad. Milestones and goals. Responsibilities. They all seem to guide us but instead rule us.
So I gave it all up. Now I write this in the Dragon Coffee Shop in Hanoi Vietnam. A locals only place you would think. But not really. I’ve watched the moments and experiences last forever. I’m here to tell you that you too can decide and define. The status quo need not apply. You don’t have to do what I did but never think getting old is some sentence to a life of gradually diminishing returns. There are places that value and treat old retired guys like me with respect and where I have found new people that walk with me, talk to me, love me for me, value me.
This is my answer. You don’t need timeshares and worrying about time. I’m here to say to leave time alone. Take your moments like wonderful jewels and let each day play itself out.
Perhaps you shall be amazed. Or maybe you will just go on, eyes on the steps in front of you. It’s really your choice. What I did two years ago is not daunting or difficult. Getting rid of everything is just that. And it’s fucking liberating as hell.