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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

When Do We Move from Middle Aged to Old?

Brother Badger has been visiting Mother Badger since July 4th and it's been very quiet on e-mail during that time. "Badger," I asked, "have you heard anything from them?" "Not one word, " he replied. I sent a short e-mail a week into their visit and heard back this morning. They're enjoying one another's company, trying to beat the heat watching lots of DVDs and doing the things Brother Badger likes to do when in Arizona. He enjoys going to Cabela's and has - so far - been there three times. Mother Badger went with him once, taking a book and finding a comfy chair while Brother Badger roamed that outdoorsman's paradise. Mother Badger commented on how easy-going Brother Badger's personality is and how he is resting and feeling a release of pressure.

For Brother Badger, you see, retired in the middle of June, just before his 57th birthday on June 30. He had a very high-pressure post in Montana state government in the finance department for decades and he was done - ready to be stuck with the fork. This is an amazing concept to me, as Brother Badger and I are almost exactly the same age and I embrace working another 13 years or more before I take on my ideal retirement job at a Starbucks or a book store or a cat sanctuary. Considering that my peer is retired, work life finalized, never to work again . . . got some things stirred up inside me. I'm rather pensive.

Brother Badger and I were sophomores that fall of 1967. The Badger had graduated from IHS the preceding June and was already at El Camino College. I wouldn't meet him until months after I encountered Brother Badger in algebra class. That's the year we spent a full semester dissecting A Tale of Two Cities, which I still pull out to enjoy about once a year. Man wouldn't walk on the moon for another 2 years and Woodstock was still to come. It seems such a short time ago. I feel like the same person.

In the fall of 2006, the Badger, Brother Badger and I converged to celebrate Mother Badger's 80th birthday. For several days we enjoyed one another's company, breaking into small groups of different configuration, with all groups getting along famously. We drove to local sights, laughing like any family in the car on an outing. It intrigues me to watch Mother Badger's different style with her two very different sons. One is not very badger-like and he is treated altogether differently. Mother Badger is fair and even-handed, but definitely not the same with the two. It makes me sad that I never met the Youngest Badger who died too young. It makes me sad I never met Father Badger, for he is an elusive figure to me, even though they have all shared their memories of him. Although I easily accepted all the miles on the Badger and myself, it was surreal to meet Brother Badger for the first time in four decades. I expected him to be the same golden teen-aged god. What had happened to him? Time and life. And now he's retired!

I'm not sure why this has unsettled me so. Why am I not simply pleased for Brother Badger? While I am pleased for him, it makes me feel a little odd that my peer, someone I actually know, is a retired person. Although I am a card-carrying member of AARP and get the extra 10% discount at Ross on Tuesday because I am a girl geezer, I have not stepped up to the retirement diving board. Clearly I am not ready to take the plunge, nor even to train for it.

I used to marvel at Stepfather for all the things he did well past 80 - hard physical work in the yard and on the boat, beautiful stained glass creations, frequently organizing nice outings for large groups of us, always looking grand in his clothes. He said, "Limes, you have to keep moving. If you stop moving, the devil will notice you and grab you." I think I'm right where I am supposed to be. When I interviewed with David, I said, "In two months I'll begin to collect a nice pension. I'll give you my last 15 years of work life." I believe I'll keep that promise.

In my ears right now (well, more in my head, but you understand): Workin' in a Coal Mine, It's a 5:00 World, She Works Hard for the Money, We Can Work it Out, Whistle While You Work, I've Been Working on the Railroad, Working for a Living. Who said this is an unresolved, prickly issue for me?

Something that charmed me: Mother Badger, although nothing like Miss Piggy, refers to herself as "Moi". It's never failed to make me grin.


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