Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Education

I'm getting a lot of training here that might prove useful to us in our future. Some of them are: concert development and promotion (Impresario Jeff Salzmann); operating an art gallery (Artist Captain Outrageous); web site development (Apple Computer and Captain Outrageous); music (Little Boy and Red Flowers); community activism (Clayton Lopez and others); the newspaper business (Dennis Reeves Cooper); audio production (Tom Forsythe & Michael Suib); community land trusts (Norma Jean Sawyer and others); and on it goes.

I was chatting over Skype Thursday evening with Alain Zhang. Alain is in China, in a city about an hour northwest of Hong Kong. He's 32, married with a young son, works in a shoe factory for a Japanese company, and is learning to speak English by contacting English-speakers on Skype and asking for a voice conversation so he can practice speaking the language.

Aliain told me that in China, retired people rarely engage in volunteerism. Instead, they focus on exercise and healthy living that will extend their lives. I'm sticking with Chat rather than voice with him, because he comes on-line in his morning, thirteen hours later than it is here, so around seven o'clock in our evening, when we're watching Hardball, then American Idol when it's on, or Antique Roadshow, or a Netflix DVD. (Last night, it was Elizabethtown on DVD, a nice movie, fun to watch, gave it four stars.)

My life's education began in parochial (Catholic) grammar school, then public high school, the U.S. Navy, night school for eight years to get a BS/BA degree, and a variety of corporate training as I worked my way to retirement. I've been joking lately about retiring -- again -- but in truth, I enjoy doing what I do here.

A lot of it is pure volunteerism, some of it is for pay, a small amount to be sure, but giving us an opportunity to do some things that we might not otherwise find possible. We were able to pay air fares for Cameron, our grandson and Amanda, our granddaughter to come for a visit. Their mother, our daughter Betty, found reasonable air fares for them both, from Boston, but it was still over $600 for their tickets. We're happy to do it because we haven't seen them for almost a year. Cameron comes Tuesday for a week, and Amanda's coming with a friend from school in April for almost a week.

So, which is the better course to follow? Should we be doing yoga or tai'chi by the sea, playing tennis (neither of us do); swimming at the municipal pool just down the street (Janet doesn't swim)? Or are those things secondary to seeking and getting fulfillment from what we do now? We definitely tilt toward the second course, although we try to eat healthy, get some exercise (we both ride our bikes every day), and have access to health care that we can afford. Is it better to live slower, longer; or is faster and shorter better. Hell, I don't know. But for right now, right here, it all seems to be in balance.

Now I have to clean up all the stuff I have stacked up at the end of our couch, folders for the Truman Waterfront Park, the Bahama Village Music Program, the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust, City Ambassadors, unread newspapers and magazines, and the like. I promised, now I must.

But I'll keep on learning.

"Less is more."
- Mies van der Rohe, Dutch-American "Modernist" architect (1886-1969)

"Less is a bore."
- Robert Venturi, American post-Modernist architect (b. 1925)

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