Last Sunday a couple of other musicians and I worked as a team to present an hour long musical celebration of Peace in advance of International Peace Day, September 21.  The process was stressful for several reasons.  I was away for the three weeks immediately prior to the service, one of the other musicians was away for a couple of the same weeks, and we had one practice together. The other reason is that I don't play well with others. The practice was rough, but we all went home with things to work on, and on Sunday it all pulled together.

Shule Aroon

I sang and played the tune that has variously been called Butternut Hill, Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier that has the Celtic tune "Shule Aroon" as its parent song, as a solo.  I sang the lead on Tenting Tonight with one of the other musicians playing harmonica in selected places and singing harmony on the chorus, and the other musician, who can sing and play anything, led us all at the opening with John Lenin and Yoko Ono's song, "Imagine".  We finished with a country hit by the Bellamy Brothers, "Let Your Love Flow."

So, I should be relieved, right?  Wrong.  I’m responsible for the music this coming Sunday and I have nothing ready.

The sermon, as I gather, is about finding purpose after retirement.  I started thinking about that and found a Zen proverb;

“Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. 

After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.”

Like all Zen sayings seemingly meaningless statements have often profound meaning on reflection. 

The same message could substitute the word retirement for enlightenment.

There are countless anecdotes about the hazards of retirement.  Individuals often leave a lifetime of work, go home, sit, sleep late, and are dead within a year.  I worry when people tell me they don’t know what they will do when they retire; that they have no hobbies.

Longevity has been studied a great deal by organizations trying to find the secret to longer life.  Most of the effort has been spent looking in the wrong places in the past.  Researchers have studied diet, income levels, levels of healthcare support, geographic location, religion, religious activity and any number of other things and have found that none of those things seem to make a lot of difference.  What matters seems to be two things; activity level following retirement, and connections with family and friends.  These two things are critical and need a little discussion.

Activity doesn’t mean working out at the gym, although there is nothing wrong with that.  Activity means keeping busy doing a variety of things.  In Costa Rica, for example, where residents in a region of the country have average lifespans almost ten years longer than the world average, individuals never really stop working.  They work in their gardens, eat fruit and nuts from trees which they plant grow and tend, and walk everywhere.  They chat with neighbors, go see family and friends and live a social life.  This doesn’t mean they have no “alone time”.  They do, and when they are alone they are comfortable in their solitude because they aren’t doomed to that.

In the Caucasus where residents have longer than usual lives most of the people are Muslim.  Their faith and customs create an interconnected web of relationships which provide structure and support.  Their marriage may be arranged, but that marriage ensures another web of relationships.  It is true that they eat what is considered to be a healthy diet, but so do other minority groups like Armenians and Turks, and those groups don’t live any longer despite the same diet and exercise levels.

To further lend support to the importance of relationships, individuals from the Caucasus live the same length of time as Russians when relocated to Moscow.

Chopping wood does not require great mental concentration and one sees immediate results.  There is a feeling of accomplishment with chopping wood.

I still don't know what I will play this Sunday.  I'll probably pull some things out of the vault.

Other than a music video in Chinese about the joys of retirement I found this:

Retirement seems to inspire a lot of jokes, but not a lot of passion.

Teacher: “Is everyone going to grandpa and grandma’s house for Thanksgiving?”

Johnny: “No, my grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida.”

Poor Johnny.  Poor Grandpa and Grandma.

Views: 166

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 18, 2017 at 12:05pm

For those of you who expressed concern; I heard today that the biopsy that I feared might be recurrent cancer was a benign skin tumor.  That was welcome news.  A tumor recurrence would have meant amputation.

Comment by alsoknownas on September 18, 2017 at 1:32pm

John Lenin and Yoko Ono's song, "Imagine".

I'm a Marxist/Lennonist myself. Groucho and John.

Comment by Rosigami on September 18, 2017 at 1:59pm

Very glad to hear of your positive diagnosis. 

My maternal grandfather lived to be 96. I remember him working in his little Brooklyn garden until he was well into his 90s. I think it was meaningful for him and kept him going. 

I don't ever plan on retiring from either painting or making music. I WOULD like to have more time to do both, so that means I may eventually have to retire from at least one of my two teaching jobs. And I'm fine with that. Probably won't do so for another few years, though. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 18, 2017 at 3:11pm

AKA, I knew I should have checked the spelling.  I can never remember who had two 'n's or who had an 'i' instead of an 'o'.  My spelling has declined with my eyesight.  I think spelling correctly is reinforced by reading.

Sorry about all of the fire and smoke.  My daughter works in Corvallis and has talked about the commute.

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 19, 2017 at 1:25am

Rosi, I don't see any reason to retire from anything you love doing and are still able to do.  I don't have the vocal control that I used to, but no one complains.  Maybe they don't notice.  More likely they don't care.

Terry, I was afraid barbering would die out, but it seem to keep going.  Your barber must like his job.  I wonder whether or not doing for others who need it might also be a factor for longevity.  It seems to be for happiness.

Comment by Steel Breeze on September 19, 2017 at 6:23am

back to work here.....more content...

Comment by Anne Armand on September 19, 2017 at 6:42am

My husband I retired slowly. We gave up full time for part time that we enjoyed. Our winter stays on Culebra, which I'm afraid may not exist after hurricane "really bad" Maria tears her apart. ...were longer. However, when going to the beach, snorkeling, painting and happy hour every day got boring we started our winter life in Florida. I took a job at a garden center, which I enjoyed more than any other employment.

Comment by Anna Herrington on September 19, 2017 at 8:37am

Your retirement is busier than my non-retirement!  So glad to know your biopsy was benign! What a relief for you and yours...

I got into reading about the Blue Zones, areas of longevity around the world and found the parallels between disparate communities quite interesting. The different zones don't have all the same benefits in lifestyles as you say here, but there are overlaps that are similar among them all. Family and relationship, social support, are definitely two of them, as is general activity throughout the day, a mostly plant-based diet, no smoking, and legumes.

I found a Venn diagram of overlap on wikipedia just now while trying to remember the different lifestyle commonalities - and there's a website of recipes and other things about these communities...

Very interesting stuff. I do well on most of the items... but am drained too often by too many people rather than uplifted so prefer only a couple really close friends rather than a full-on social system in person like my mother loved...

Having a father die so young has made me conscious of these things, whether it makes a difference individually while living in a non-blue zone, who knows.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Zone

https://bluezones.com/live-longer-better/

Comment by koshersalaami on September 19, 2017 at 10:05am

Good news about the tumor. Tried to comment last night but I was having technical problems. 

Comment by Ben Sen on September 19, 2017 at 10:34am

Van Morrison did it best on his Enlightenment Album.  The entire album is a masterpiece.

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