Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 771 (323) What Money Can't Buy

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

"What Money Can't Buy, the Moral Limits of Markets" by Michael Sandel is the name of a book I read a few years ago. The title caught my attention. These podcasts have been shaped around a similar premise for the past fifteen years. When I launched this project I was discouraged with information available on retirement that did not have to do with investments and finances. It appeared that the only concern in retirement was money. My own experience of being retired told me that there was much more to retired life than money. I wanted to explore it in my own mind and hopefully make contact with other people who thought in similar fashion.

Michael Sandel is a philosophy professor at Harvard. I watched 13 Episodes of a class that he offers entitled "Justice: What is the Right Thing To Do". You can find it in iTunes or YouTube. He has a way of teaching that appeals to me. When I saw his latest book and that title which was so similar to the very thought that launched me into doing this podcast I knew I had to read it.

His thesis is that the movement of marketplace economics into the world of morality and values is not on firm ground. Letting the market determine our values is a colossal mistake.

HIs thoughts range a bit further afield to consider a morality based on reason and a variety of historical traditions. These may contribute to a better life for all. He gives many examples of how morality can be corrupted by money and the market.

Retirement is a period in life when time becomes premium. Certainly money is important in daily living but time is definitely a commodity that is in limited supply. We know that our time is drawing to a close. We are in the last major phase of life. Whatever we may wish to do in life takes on a sense of urgency. When I told my daughter of a plan I had for when I got older she responded with, "Don't wait too long, Dad".

During the last fifteen  years this podcast has ranged over literally hundreds of topics. When launched I had no idea that it would run for this many years and be published almost once every week. Time keeps ticking. The range of subjects seems to be endless. I'm sure there is much left.

I have some friends who retired a few years ago. She was set on sleeping in a bit and helping other people in the community who are shut-in or in need of end of life care. He planned on writing a novel, reading, walking and becoming more stress free. They have done exactly that over the last seven or eight years.

It has been thirty-five years since I retired. I sometimes feel like it is time to turn the page and move on to another adventure of one type or another. I tried to complete a book on retirement during that time and have not got it done. Why is that?

We make plans but sometimes they just don't seem to materialize. You may find yourself in the same boat? What is my excuse when it comes to a book? There are several reasons. I'm reminded of what an old friend of mine in Alaska responded to a choice I was trying to make with, "Well, you'll do what you want to do. That's what we always do". I think he is right.

For me, time with my guitar outweighed my desire to write a book. I do not short my time with the instrument. Paying attention to detail and being relaxed are two of my biggest weaknesses. The guitar and music requires both and thus has a very strong appeal. I have always liked the challenge to improve. It agrees with Spinoza's theory about the nature of happiness being the continued movement towards something greater than that which we have. The guitar will challenge me into the grave.

I sometimes feel like the world is awash in books. I see them sitting in libraries or garage sales for free. I see them thrown in the trash. They seem like dandelions: flowering and quickly fading away. I have to admit that I am not a writer. It requires a finely honed skill to turn a phrase and wrap tens of thousands of words together in a meaningful fashion. I challenge my writing skills with these thousand word podcasts each week.

It would be nice to check off my life list the goal of writing and publishing a book. But at this stage in life I find more satisfaction playing the scales on my guitar. It's fun. I'll share my thoughts concerning retirement via manageable weekly broadcasts. And if the book ever comes to fruition, good. And if not, that will also be good.

It has been the basic premise of these podcasts that there is more to life than money. Thinking carefully about what we are doing with our limited time seems much more important. Do you harbor goals that seem to be ever evasive? It may be that you now have other interests that hold greater value. It might come as a relief to carefully consider my friend's admonition that we are doing what we really want to do.

This is Retirement Talk.

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