Thursday, August 10, 2017

A New Thrill at 91 - Driving! And some thoughts on What constitutes THE GOOD LIFE (As I've seen it!)

At my families request, I gave up driving our 2006 Pontiac!  Oh, I still think I'm the best driver in the family, but it's hard to find anyone who agrees with me. Fearful that an unexpected accident might prove them right, I gave up my keys! I truly enjoy public transportation, can endure metro's flaws,  and may someday go against my prejudice and even take Uber.

When I realized that merely walking causes intense pain in my lower back, I found a marvelous teen thrill - being old/mature enough to get behind a steering wheel!  It happened amazingly in the most unlikely place - the shopping mecca, COSTCO! Without needing a drivers license or insurance, with 30 seconds of instruction, I found myself tooling around the wide aisles from the Hearing Center to the Pharmacy to the abundance of free samples and other retiree Shangri La's.

Once again being open to simple new experiences has enabled me to see how full and "rich" my life has been - for 61 pre-retirement years and almost 31 since.  And it causes me to ponder and puzzle:

How is this possible? What factors account for a good life for so many - like me - in my generation and is it going to be available for my kids and grandkids?

  • Surely good health is important!  But I know of some who feel as I do about their lives who have experienced great suffering.
  • I've had sufficient income. It seems especially important in these retirement years. How fortunate I am that Social Security and a good STATE pension system (from a career in education) make it possible for me to enjoy life during these 31 years of retirement. Yet I am very pessimistic with the direction of American society where a number of critical factors from impatience to have everything "right now" to poor distribution of wealth makes retirement opportunities like mine less likely. Surely I realize many other factors have been involved. However many in my generation have joined me in living the good life not because of our planning, but because the norms of society were structured to provide us with this benefit.
  • I continue to be impressed with the opportunities in other developed nations for middle-class folks to have retirement and vacation opportunities not available to most in our middle-class. Relatives of mine in Germany ranging from policeman to teachers appear to have sufficient middle class salaries that provide adequate health care and other benefits including lengthy vacation time for meaningful travel.
  • But this just scratches the surface of the things I marvel at from my youth that provided our lower middle class (especially income-wise) to have very satisfactory life experiences and doors opened for the further life I have experienced. 
  • "The fullness of my retirement living RIGHT NOW" prevents me from the many thoughts I'd like to share.  Thoughts about "the good old days" that cause some to think that America was once great!  Perhaps I'll enlarge on them in two weeks when I next Rant! 

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