Taking off a year, turned into two
For those that might not be familiar with my story of taking a year off, you can get caught up here.
Well, now that year will turn into two at the end of January 2018. I still see the time off as a valuable investment in myself. It has provided more time for reflection on the type of work that will satisfy me in the future.
In my 50’s, I’m getting a jump start on purging stuff from my life. This is just something I was always too busy for while working a full time job. During that time, I was a “collector” by default. Books, magazines, papers, DVD’s, all just seemed to pile up, and fill more of our apartment space. This time has given me much more time to focus on getting rid of stuff through special projects. These include scanning my books or donating things, or dumping it on Ebay for a little extra cash. Lately, I’ve noticed a boom in the “storage space” market but this has allowed me to personally reverse that trend. I feel much more mobile and less vulnerable. I also feel like it’s allowing me more ramp up time to decide what items I might like to pass on to specific friends or family members.
Let me clear here, this is NOT the same type of purging that has you wholesale dumping stuff because of pressure from a spouse or partner or just because you want to “straighten up”. I’ve been there too, and this is different.
When working a full time job, I had always lamented the time that I couldn’t truly focus on my passions. These projects were broad and numerous and usually had gotten off the ground somewhat, but they never received the nurturing attention that satisfy’s the soul. My Father, who was a hulking blue collar guy supposedly thought that being a florist would be a nice job. I’m sure he never gave it any serious thought and time ran out for him when he died of a heart attack at 64. My projects are slightly less tangible but no less alluring.
NYC Book Collection
In this physical world of downsizing and digitizing, surprisingly one of my dream projects is to have at least one bookcase filled with books about New York City. There are a few bookstores that have a comprehensive collection that I get lost in sometimes. Over the years I’ve actually purchased a lot of these books, but previously they were scattered in various locations in my home. Those volumes have since migrated neatly next to my office desk, providing a more connected reference point for me. A recent addition to the collection was “Woody Allen, Film by Film“, which has me discovering movies that I wasn’t even aware of before leafing through this book.
Before genealogy was popularized by online services and the PBS show, “Finding your roots”, I spent a few years buried in microfilm at the Philadelphia branch of the National archives. This work yielded a nice little document that I provide to each of my family members. That project laid dormant for 20 years, while the technology has leapfrogged many of my efforts. The hard copies of two large file boxes has now appeared on the same bookshelf as my NYC book collection. In arms reach.
Since I’ve aged, I’m realizing now that I have neglected my own physical health in many ways. Not eating properly, drinking too much and just not exercising. That’s a bad trifecta and I’m realizing that I’m going to need to shift the time spent or not spent on those things toward my own health. Technology is making that a lot easier. My Fitbit tracks my activity and is in fact a motivator to not be sedentary. It also tracks my sleep. My WiThings products track the long term history of my weight and blood pressure. Participation in group sites provides a like-minded forum for sharing the challenges and getting support I couldn’t find previously.
Related to both genealogy and health is the gene sequencing kit, that will allow me to discover new things about pedigree and remedies. It’s a fascinating tool that takes time to digest. (upcoming post on this soon)
In general, during this 2 year period, I feel like a lot of things have come together nicely. It makes me feel more confident and comfortable about starting “what’s next” for me. I don’t worry about the Yankees or the NFL standings. I also don’t intend to be using any of my hard earned cash on supporting professional athletes or their owners.
While I’m not ready for a rocking chair yet, I see a dfference from my pre-50’s me. I can still turn on the afterburners when needed, but rushing out the door and continuing to burn the midnight oil for all of the above just doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I just want to relax and watch the LIVE evening news and enjoy a glass of wine with my wife.
Sometimes I worry about taking off too long before jumping back into the workforce. There is still a lot of pressure for the male to be the bigger breadwinner in a family. However, I’m learning to deal with accepting a new reality. Reflecting on exactly how some of my time has been spent, I feel less anxious and more grateful for having such a wonderful opportunity to be alive during this time.
What would you spend more time on if you could really focus?