I knew a guy in Alaska
who retired and set off to sail around the world. He bought a new boat made in Norway. He flew
there to pick it up and sailed south and east. He didn’t get halfway. He got
attacked by pirates. Somewhere down in the Caribbean.
I’m not kidding: gun to his head and everything. He felt lucky – they didn’t
kill him. He sold his boat and flew home; decided on doing something else with
Another guy I know took off on a similar trip only to
capsize in the South Pacific. I mean upside down; locked in the cabin with his
daughter. Just imagine that moment: You’re battling a storm; flip upside-down,
inside a boat, in the middle of the ocean. The boat righted itself. He sailed
into the closest port; sold the boat. Flew home and decided to do something
else in retirement. I don’t want to mock the idea of sailing around the world..
I’m sure some people do it successfully. I just don’t know any.
This is Del Lowery with Retirement Talk. The question
we want to consider in this program is, “Once retired, what then?”
So the big decision has been made. You have decided to
retire: “take a walk”, “hang it up”, “bag it”, or whatever you might call it.
The world is big; the choices are endless. How can you
choose the path that will bring you the greatest satisfaction or happiness?
Years ago I came across some happiness advice that has
never failed me. I liked it because it made sense, it worked for me and I loved
the name of the originator, Baruch de Espinosa: or, Spinoza. “Spinoza knowza”,
I used to tell my kids. Spinoza lived in Holland
in the 1600s, Jewish descent. His family had been kicked out of Spain in 1492
at the beginning of the inquisition. This is when Ferdinand and Isabel married,
into one big country. They gave all the Jews a choice: either give up their
religion and become a Catholic, leave, or get burned at the stake. The de
Espinosa family moved to Portugal
and then to Holland;
smart move. Over the years the name changed to Spinoza.
He was a brilliant guy, too brilliant for some. He
eventually got excommunicated from the Jewish religion and died at a very early
age – 43. Once, on a trip to Europe, I found the synagogue from where he supposedly
got excommunicated in Amsterdam.
I asked the young kid with keys to the synagogue if he knew about Spinoza. He
feigned ignorance. “No I never heard of him,” he said. I could tell he was
lying. This was a very bright kid; maybe 16 or 17 years old. His eyes told me
he knew about Spinoza. Then I remembered Spinoza had been kicked out,
excommunicated. That means his name and everything had been erased from the
record. He was to never be read, spoken of, or named again – forever. Maybe the
kid wasn’t lying.
Well, when it came to happiness, Spinoza claimed that
we all desired it ,but don’t really know what it is and thus find it difficult
to attain. He claimed that every time we pursue something and think it will
bring us happiness we are disappointed once we “capture the flag”, so to
speak. Once we get to our goal and receive the applause, or the money, or the
big house, or the large screen HDTV, we find ourselves disappointed, and many
times crushed the following day. The happiness we thought would be ours is not
there; and when it isn’t there, we feel let down, disappointed: “Now what”?
Our problem lies in defining, or thinking of
happiness, as a solid state; or as a position or place. It isn’t.
Spinoza claimed that happiness really is a transitory
state. It is found in the movement towards something: movement towards a
greater state of perfection than that which we now have. It isn’t in having a
better garden than we now have, but it is in the act of creating, or moving
towards, having the better garden. Happiness lies in making the transition;
moving to a greater state of perfection.
What does all this mean for someone who is retiring –
or really, just anyone?
Maybe we all need to sit down and give this some
thought. Where do we wish to go? Movement towards what? And then what? And then
what? We do need a direction – and we need an understanding and acceptance of
the nature of happiness.
By the way, the music for the first program, of this
series was preformed by my guitar teacher Deborah Anderson. She has the patience
of a saint to put up with me for the last 5 or 6 years as a student. When I get
up my nerve perhaps I will perform a bit on my own.
I’m sure many of you have this already figured out this
road to happiness. You are already moving along the continuum. If you have a
story you would like to share, please drop me a line. I’d love to talk to you.
I want to offer up examples of people and the various paths they have chosen to
What do you think? I will read your letters on a
future podcast. Or, give you a call and perhaps we can record the call and play
it during a future show.
Next on the
program I’ll go over a couple of examples of things that worked for me.