Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 360 (revised 043) Wake up (Alarm clock and the News)

Retirement meant I could destroy my alarm clock. I never did like alarm clocks. I mean, What a way to start the day? Just the word “Alarm” has a threatening meaning.  What does that word mean? Get ready for trouble. Watch out! Danger! Is that anyway to start each day? “The British are coming. The British are coming.” Should we start each day as if we were going into battle?

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

Alarms should ring when your house is on fire; when an intruder breaks in; when someone robs a bank. Given a choice, the journey into the day should start in a gentle fashion – birds chirping, soft music, waves gently lapping at the shore. Instead it is a buzzer, bell or siren sound. I know people who wake up to the news. War, pestilence, and famine – mixed with weather alerts and advertising. And then, of course, there is the stock market report.  How many of us need to know the big winners and losers on Wall Street - on a daily basis? I can’t imagine anything worse than  starting a day with an alarm followed by the news.

This podcast is an attempt to get us all to think about what we are doing with our lives; both the big things and the little. I don't know where to classify alarm clocks and the news. I put them in the big category but I suppose for most they would fall into the "not a big thing" category.

In the “good old” days news traveled slowly. A person might hear of a tragic epidemic, a multiple murder and suicide, or of a gigantic beast headed your way. News would be limited. You would take it in doses spaced out over time. The rest of life could be live in peace. But today – bad news come like a daily blizzard. What are the results: fear and anxiety reaffirmed every waking hour; or calloused indifference.

I like to take my news in print. I can read about it, pause, stop, start, and consider if I want to go on. I can also take it in my own space and time. I can of course never take news before lunch.  At least my morning can be pleasant – without interference from politicians, criminals, or corporations inserting themselves into my breakfast and morning coffee? I be entitled to read a few pages from a novel, listen or play some music, go out for a walk or bike ride – look at a few flowers, or the sky, without images of “news” dominating and staining my vision.

I don’t want to imply that one shouldn’t keep informed about the community, state, country or world. It is just the method with which I take issue. In a recent telephone survey after finding out that we didn’t have a television the interviewer seriously said, “But how are you going to get the news”? I found that question as strange as she probably found my statement that we didn’t have a television.

There are many places one can go for a news fix today. As for me, I scan the local papers – just to check community type stuff and familiar names – this only takes a few minutes. Then there are a couple of local weekly newspapers that are a must for local news and strong opinions.  Then there is the Digital Edition of The New York Times. It is cheap, current and digital. It always feels good to bypass paper wasting - old fashioned newsprint. "The New Yorker and  Harpers serve my magazine needs. As I write this I realize my reading list has shrunk over the years. It use to include many more journals or magazines. Upon retirement I made a conscious decision to limit the time I spend reading words written by other people. I wanted to spend a little more time thinking for myself. I skip lots of stuff.

I like the radio for lots of reasons. I listen to several podcasts. I guess they have replaced the attention I use to give to magazines. I try to select certain podcast presentations from a variety of shows depending on the topic. Some of my favorite are "This American Life", Radio Lab, and the Diane Rehm. Then there are certain segments from All Things Considered that I select out for attention. NPR has suffered such a political beating and budget cuts.  It barely limps along as a weak reminder of days gone by.

Since we live and spend almost one-half of our time in Canada we are use to having the CBC as a source of information. They have particularly evening news program called, "As It Happens". It reminds us of the way NPR was in the good old days.

I must admit that there are some shows on NPR that can be very informative. I can get them on air or via their podcasts, None of them are presented as news shows.

So there you have it - my rant about alarms, alarm clocks, and the news. I don’t mean to pontificate – I just mean to rant.

This is Retirement Talk.



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