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Sure there’s no crimson blood spurting but it has to hurt.

Huge hurt like fire and brimstone hell… torn and ripped and pink in pain.

A long while back I discussed my depilatory misadventures in MANSCAPING.

The other night my mind was returned to similar thoughts while watching the historic Chick-lit TV production (yeah, I watch chick-TV as well as Chick Flicks) of author Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER.

Amid the 18th century Scot/Brit/French drama and clan fighting and disease, strong female lead Claire Beauchamp visits a fashionable Paris friend Louise de Rohan.

Their womanly chatter carries on as breezily immodest Louise is being wax coif-stripped a la Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin – “bare to there” from tender knee to satiny belly button, driving a clearcut bulldozer pathway right through her golden triangle (are you with me here?).

Comically – and without interrupting her womanly blah blah blah with Claire – she callously slaps the male wax-installer as he scream-inducingly-indelicately jerks away the lady garden sprouting between her spread legs.

The men find it absolutely irresistible,” Louise purrs.

In the following scene, more generally modest Claire returns home and slips into bed beside her Scot hunk-husband Jamie.

Assisting him in exploring her very own nether regions, her girly-giggles rise as he discovers the smooth as a baby’s bottom parts down below.

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His reaction as she leads his hand under her nightgown?: “Claire! What have you done to yourself? Your honeypot is bare!

She invites him to take a closer look.

It’s more complicated than it looks thatched over,” he muses. Oh my!

It was a comically refreshing break from the dangerous intrigue and serious subject matter surrounding them, but, despite its titillating amusements (dismays?), also jarring for me from a historical perspective.

Did these sorts of things really transpire in these times? I don’t think so. Are you pulling my hairy leg Diane Gabaldon?

I’m already shocked when I see historical pieces where characters blurt out the “F**K” word… Were these expletive words and hair removal techniques really in use more than 2 centuries ago?

C’mon… is it factually accurate?

Well, you just know I had to do a bit of digging to service my naughty little man-mind.

Turns out the answer is YES… and… NO…

OK, depilation of woman’s (and men’s) body parts has been going on for centuries, millennia actually, reflecting the particular hair-free custom of the moment.

And if you think about it, you may have even noted yourself the presence of a lot of European art where the deficiency of hair in the feminine pubic area is common.

venus painting

To this point… notoriously, on the wedding night of the celebrated art critic, John Ruskin and Effie Gray in 1848, Ruskin was so repelled by the sight of his bride’s body that he was unable to consummate the marriage.

Effie Gray explained in a letter of five years later “he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person”.

Although we’ll never truly understand the reasons for Ruskin’s reaction, it’s been widely assumed that he was traumatized by Effie’s pubic hair.

Early nude paintings, like today’s internet pornography, have given men (and women) somewhat distorted cut-and-dried versions (visions) of what may or may not be normal.

An authentic version of the hair-away scene in OUTLANDER would more likely have been filmed with the use of a mixture akin to the concoction below.

A 1532 book of secrets gives this version of the recipe:

How to Remove or Lose Hair from Anywhere on the Body

Boil together a solution of one pint of arsenic and eighth of a pint of quicklime. Go to a baths or a hot room and smear medicine over the area to be depilated. When the skin feels hot, wash quickly with hot water so the flesh doesn’t come off.

I admit it. I’m pretty innocent and trusting. Naivety is my middle name.

I rely on serious historical-fiction novels and period-piece TV and movies to give me the true goods on the nuances of the era they chronicle. In my view, the creator’s background research should make my assignment easy and done. It’s all a part of my lifelong learning package.

So as clever, cute, and somewhat titillating the de-fleecing OUTLANDER scene was, I can’t help but feel cheated by the use of modern hair methodology from an otherwise reasonably honest account of a long gone age.

Do I now ruefully disbelieve the actuality of “Bonnie Prince Charlie’s” Jacobite Rebellion and the bloody massacre at the Battle of Culloden? Were the 2,000 Scots killed that 16 April 1746 just a rumour in the chill highland’s wind?

Or… was it all a wee bit o’ a lie, a concoction like a vulvar waxing?

Whoa is me. I grow weary and jaded my friend.

Am I no longer to believe that the last Canadian Prime Minister didn’t truly pose for the portrait painted below?

 

Timmys painting

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I Love The Church But I Hate Religion

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Sometimes I wake up surprised by a long forgotten memory that hasn’t passed my way in years, like a hazy ship coming into sight over the horizon. My mind is a mysterious maze.

The clock had just stroked past midnight ushering in Christmas Day, 1970, and my friend Renato and I were snickering – sacrilegiously so – as the Bishop, dressed in his flowing robes and ornate finery slowly made his way, like a blushing bride, down the aisle of sacred St. Eugene’s Church.

Slowly swinging a heavy gold thurible bubbling over with the sweet smoke of heady incense, the Bishop’s voluminous robes and the thurible’s hypnotic oscillating motion brought a vision to my head of him tossing sugary Christmas candies – Santa-like – to the children in the pews.

When I whispered this to Renato, he burst out laughing which made me crack up as well. Disapproving eyes turned our way.

A firestorm of lightning and hail should have rained down upon us.

That was my very first and to this day, only, visit to a Midnight Mass.

I sometimes wonder now if perhaps my photo has been placed in all Catholic Churches worldwide as a “Wanted Dead or Alive” reminder to those who might laugh out loud in the presence of God.

Wanted Dead or Alive

The mass was mystically ephemeral and awe-inspiring, the cavernous hall filled with deep-bassed bone-rattling organ music reverberating off the rock solid walls and high ceiling of the church.

The genuflecting, recitations, prayers and hymns filled me with a mix of reverential wonderment, and even a tiny bit of fear that I would somehow be exposed, singled out to the large congregation as a blasphemous outsider, and stoned to death as a sacrificial Protestant offering.

We were young teenagers and Renato had invited me to the special annual event to join with his Italian family: Mom, Dad, older sister and brother.

Just a couple of blocks away from my own family’s St. David’s Church, St. Eugene’s Catholic Church was all “Paris high-couture” compared to my United Church’s “dressed-down Levi jeans”…

Catholics took Holy Communion with real drunk-inducing wine, we United’s merely sipped on wussy Welch’s grape juice. OMG, we were amateurs at this religion stuff.

Compared to the much more casual, laissez-faire services at St. David’s, it was like going to the Queen’s Coronation in London. It reeked of splendour and religious gravitas.

Religions are like bird species… they all fly about in pretty much the same manner but their plumage and songs can look incredibly different.

Bird church

I’m not a religious guy but I love going into churches, all churches: tiny, mammoth, simple, ornate.

I’ve been in Cathedrals and Basilicas and Chapels.

I’ve entered Mosques and Synagogues.

I’ve stood in a Rain Forest Cathedral.

Without exception, they all impart to me a sense of grandeur, an inner feeling of the greatness of all that exists in a world that none of us can explain with any certainty.

And yet I call myself an atheist, a heretic, a heathen, a non-believer of a God.

But in fact, I have to admit that I’m really a nothing because I have no belief or knowledge or wisdom that allows me to say with 100% confidence that I know an answer… THE ANSWER.

And I hesitate to say it, but really, does any human know the answer? I don’t think so.

Not me, not you, not the Pope, not the Dalai Lama (actually, the Dalai Lama puts it this way: “God exists or God does not exist. Leave it for us. Your task is to learn how to live peacefully.”) or any other religious figure that we use as a conduit to a God.

I trust my eyes and ears and science more than I trust biblical texts written thousands of years back by fallible, earthly men. I tend to throw back most of the faith and religious fish outside of those caught that instruct us in morality and good-living.

For many years, I felt bashfully nervous about releasing my inner beliefs.

My views were contrary to the God-steeped teachings I was raised with and I felt insecure running against the non-secular crowd. It came down to that pee-my-pants insecurity that people would think less of me if they knew I was a non-believer.

Well so be it. Not any more. I don’t mind the smell of my own shit.

I’ve grown older and more confident in my beliefs. Hallelujah!

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And… I think those around me who do believe in an omnipotent deity are today more flexibly tolerant and understanding of others’ beliefs (Donald Trump aside), much in the same way that many, maybe most of us, accept gay love as just one more normal way of loving another person (OK, the whole American Republican Party aside).

Religion, like Communism, holds out for utopian ideals that are heartwarming and based on love and caring for our fellow travellers. When these visionary ideals are taken to heart and observed, which they often are… then… I love religion.

But when those teachings are twisted and malformed into a monstrous means of shutting out and rejecting and hurting others, when horrific wars and jihads and death squads are unleashed, when innocent women and children are shamefully abused, when obfuscation and lies are used to protect and hide those bastard transgressors, THAT is when I hate religion.

Religion can be a wonderful, rich philosophy of living a life, just like many other non-deity based philosophies that teach and promote love and humility and kindness.

Religion supports the needs of those in pain and suffering of which there is no shortage in this world.

Religion offers shelter where disease and poverty and injustice strike mercilessly upon the weakest.

There have been numerous times in my life that I wished I could embrace an inner belief that someone was looking out for me, protecting me. What warmth that blanket holds in the chill of the night.

Be religious. Don’t be religious. Be caring. Be thoughtful. Say thank you.

And be prepared to catch sweet candies tossed your way when you least expect it.

Christmas candy

 

Starting Near Zero

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WOOHOO… Way to go!!

The crowds lined up behind the fenced barriers are cheering, clapping loudly, happily for the ragtag mixture of runners:

  • the hangdog ones scraping their exhausted feet over the pavement
  • the energetic gazelles with beaming smiles
  • the coolly oblivious with their iPod buds firmly affixed in their ears
  • the proud Moms or Dads pushing their sleeping wee ones in jogging strollers

The FINISH line banner arcs across Vancouver’s West Pender Street like a welcoming Pot O’ Gold rainbow.

Hallelujah!

This is my favourite time of the year.

Spring.

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Candy-scented pink and white fruit blossoms unfurling like little cocoons releasing their multi-coloured butterflies everywhere.

Leaves laying a carpet of emerald green across the sky overhead.

Furry tan-toned marmots along the side of the road tilting their heads upwards to their gods seeking the warm sunshine after their winter nap.

Even the backyard chickens look like they have bigger Disney smiles on their beaks at this time of year.

It’s also the time of year where I start out once again from near zero.

I’m talking about my drive to exercise – to sweat intensely.

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In mid-winter I’ll sweat in the gym most days, but my levels of enthusiasm and drive drag and slow, as if the plow blade is digging into rocky soil making the workload heavy and cumbersome.

I manage to continue because it’s become a well-ingrained habit and part of what makes me, well… me.

But the fitness peaks I attain each spring and summer begin dwindling bit by bit over the autumn and winter. The daylight length shrinks in concert with my muscle strength and stamina.

And even though I rarely think about it, the inner knowledge of my parents’ relatively early deaths (ages 61 and 73) from heart disease spur that internal drive; the drive to do the things I can and am able to do to stave off the Grim Reaper for one more day, one more year play quietly but insistently in the back of my mind.

In early spring, my physical activity motor revs and builds more and more until it crescendos like an orchestra reaching the climax of the symphony. My energy levels and desire to push myself grow Viagra-like day-by-day in concert with the lengthening of the daylight hours. I love it.

Every year for a long time, I’ve entered running or triathlon races of varying distances… the shortest would be 5 kilometres but I’ve run lots of distances … 5 k, 10 k, 15 k, half marathon, full marathon.

Running has taught me lessons about life. There are lessons to be found everywhere we look, in everything we do for pleasure or for work.

Akin to looking out over the flat prairies and thinking that there’s nothing to be seen, some things are just more subtle and require a closer examination. The prairies are teeming with activity and life and visual excitement when observed more intensely, and so are the days of our lives.

And one of those lessons is that every race is just as tough as the next, no matter the distance.

Every running race – like all of life’s real challenges – is difficult and demanding.

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People say to me, “oh, it’s only a 5k, that should be easy”. Yeah… sorta. On the surface that would seem to be the case.

Shorter distance, easy. Longer distance, hard.

Makes sense, right? Not really…

It’s all about pacing.

A long race (eg. half marathon, marathon) means a slow steady pace, carefully doling out energy in small measured dollops so our legs can carry us the full distance. It takes conscious thought and self-knowledge to make it to the finish.

Too many flame out and “hit the wall” (I should be embarrassed by the number of times I’ve “hit the wall”) from over-confidence and endorphin highs that trick us into believing our superhero capes will magically carry us through.

Shorter races (eg. 5 k, 10 k) call for a different strategy where speed-work and mental toughness play major roles. Running at a near breathless pace for just 20 minutes to 1 hour  demands a huge mental effort and inner strength. It’s like running on a tightrope where a tiny excess of running speed will knock you down hurricane-like, wind rampaging through a forest. It calls for fine-tuning and finesse and a willingness to tolerate a taste of blood and vomit mixing in your mouth.

All of life’s “races” demand inner strength and stamina and self-knowledge.

Sometimes we succeed in measuring out the perfect amount of energy required. Heavenly exhaustion.

Sometimes, we push too hard and burn and crash, learning harsh lessons about ourselves and what we might do differently next time out. Devilish curse.

Sometimes, I might even add often, we grow cautious and move too slowly and underestimate our ability and strength and never accomplish the higher possibilities that lie inside us. Zootopia Slothdom.

Two Sundays from now, I’ll be lining up in Queen Elizabeth Park alongside 15,000 other nervously hopeful half-marathon and marathon runners.

The light embracing scent of a hundred well-used Porta-Potties will waft delicately in the early morning air. We’ll all sing O Canada together and anxiously listen for the sharp bang of the starter’s pistol.

And two hours later when I see that beautiful encouraging FINISH banner, then feel the weight of the Finisher’s Medallion around my neck, I and 15,000 others will have learned a whole new lesson – whether starting from Zero or Superhero – about ourselves.

Life's race

 

 

 

 

 

The Scent of Love Floating on Air…

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I want a little sugar in my bowl
I want a little sweetness down in my soul
I could stand some lovin’, oh so bad
I feel so funny, I feel so sad”
Nina Simone

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A warm wafting garlic scent intermingled with fresh tomatoes, oregano and cumin hang-glides like a heavenly wispy cloud, drifting insistently through the walls and under doors into bedrooms beckoning lovers like a magnetic force, irresistible, trance-like.

There is a sensuous beauty in cooking a scrumptious meal. Cooking… at its best… is like making delicious love while standing.

Chicken Shawarma, Aji de Gallina, Lemon Risotto, Rogan Josh, Guinness Irish Stew, Lamb Tajine, Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup, Moros y Cristianos, BBQ Ribs, French Onion Soup… such sweet carnal names that call out so insistent and charming.

Cooking is Patrick Swayze with his arms cozily wrapped around Demi Moore (or vice versa in my personal dream), caressing wet, slippery clay in their hands together… absorbed in the flow of warm moisture, the sinewy ooze between interlocked fingers, the light texture of warm soothing breath on the back of the neck…

Preparing a meal is foreplay where the pleasure is in the process – the cinnamon smells, the coriander tastes, the soft melding of complementary spices and oils…

There’s the lovers’ experimentation of trying this and that, seeking out a variety fun-pack where slower or faster pacing of the preparation become critical components of the whole experience… the joy of new discoveries.

And finally the moment arrives, everything is laid out in anticipatory beauty, that moment where shared pleasure heightens as we sit together as a group or face-to-face, smiling, sipping deeply-tinted Cabernet Sauvignon, nipping at summery Pinot Gris, the swirling stream of conversation weaving with the flavourful blend of colour and texture on the plate, on the fork.

Messy, noisy sucking of succulent tender meat off the rib bone and the rich feel of it melting, coating the inside of our mouths, the tangy sweetness rising through our nose hitting all the pleasure centres in the brain.

All we need to complete this delicious metaphor is a taste of something chocolatey or some other sumptuously sweet “climax” to bring the whole erotically lustful event to a satisfying finish.

A truly happy ending. With hopefully no buns left in the oven afterwards.

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Cooking is like investing or really almost everything we might do in life… each year that passes makes us more experienced, more in tune with the magic that makes it work and what doesn’t.

Fine cooking improves in our personal aging almost like a well-cellared wine.

All of the experimentation, the trials, the errors, the frustrations. And finally the successes.

You want trial and error? How about the fried rice I made at the age of 11 for a family gathering. As a young culinary neophyte, I lacked the knowledge to cook the rice in liquid first before frying – yup… CRUNCHY!!  Big Oops!

But the frequent failures blend with the successes over time… the 80:20 ratio of failure:success which was unsettling and frustrating has now flipped to a debatably 80:20 ratio of success:failure.

When my kids visit now and vocally remind me about how I’m”cooking the garbage”, I’m pretty sure they’re saying it tongue-in-cheek. Or perhaps I’m just delusional…

The 10,000 hour rule of mastery plays its part, in cooking as in our other passions.

I’ve known a few really wonderful cooks in my life beginning way back with my Mom and her incredible deep-brown caramelized roast potatoes followed by delicious flaky-crusted Northern Spy apple pies at our family Sunday night dinners.

My sister-in-law Lois was a superb cook with an amazing arsenal of ethnic food dishes learned while living in countries like Malaysia, India, Egypt and Nigeria.

My good friend Denise who, despite growing up in a British family (Brits can’t cook, can they?!), has developed a wonderful and richly-deserved reputation as a cook extraordinaire.

In the past year or two I’ve worked alongside a few other creative, skillful chefs in the Greek Restaurant where I bartend occasionally; also, even surprisingly in the soup kitchen where I do some volunteer work. I’ve discovered that great cooking doesn’t only waft in the air of kitchens in high-end spots. Passion for cooking can flow from any kitchen, any locale.

The best I can do is to watch and learn from all of those who take pride and delight in their cooking. And then mostly, I learn from cooking.

Again and again. Try this. Try that.

This flavour combination is marvellous. Oh, that one really sucks! How could I have never used fenugreek before?

I’m pretty lucky to live in a time where I have access to an amazing assortment of food ingredients. Ideas for recipes and flavour delights surround and hug me like wonderful foamy bubbles in a large bathtub.

I can prepare meals today that my parents and grandparents would never have dreamed of in their lives. Meat and potatoes are my heritage but not a major part of my current reality.

Cooking is an act of love we share with our friends, our families, our lovers.

That love may be fraternal or familial, but sometimes… when we want that sweetness down in our soul, the scents and flavours spin and whirl and twist in the spicy evening air in erotically, sensuously charged pleasures.

food sex

 

 

Screw Retirement…

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Here… would you like a cup of fragrant coffee, a steaming green tea, or one of my… ahem… superb lattes?

You might need one because I feel a “sermon from the mount” moment coming on…

Look out, here it comes …

IF you’re retired now … get out!

Hurry!!

Or… if … IF … you’re thinking of retiring… think again.

Lose the word retirement from your vocabulary. Just chuck it out the window of life’s fast-moving train. Clickety-clack… clickety-clack… gone.

Escape like super-stud Steve McQueen on a motorcycle jumping razor-sharp barbed-wire Nazi fences in The Great Escape.

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Retirement is a crappy word and a shitty concept. Truly-retired people die. Fast.

A May 2013 report published by the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs found that retirement increased the chances of suffering from depression by 40%, while it increased the probability of having at least one diagnosed physical ailment by about 60%. That impact was assessed after controlling for the usual age-related conditions.

Now, I’m not telling you to stay or to leave your current job. Nope. Not at all.

As a matter of fact, if you truly love what you’re doing in your work – if you feel a glow of enthusiasm about what you do (almost) every day when you awake that doesn’t relate to morning nooky  – then please DON’T move on because the world has told you that’s the thing to do… stuff like, “you should just relax, you’ve earned it“… “you’re 65 and should retire” … “you should make room for younger folks to have opportunities“.

Nonsense. Don’t let yourself be should upon.

But really… REALLY!! My message here is don’t quit life. Move on to a new world but don’t retire. Re-invent and renew.

Never retire.

I love the La-Z-Boy as much as the next guy, but let’s make it a restorative tonic to clear our heads on our way to the starry constellation of our passions.

Never stop learning and pushing to grow. Never stop finding new experience in your days.

Die soon list

The SIX FEET UNDER Club List …

A half dozen years ago my friend Jennifer gave me a cool Sudoku techie-machine to exercise my brain.

I packed it with me it to the high oxygen-thin Andes of Cusco, Peru, where my wife and I sat and mind-sweated Spanish immersion classes alongside other enthusiastic young travellers in a school for 4 hours each weekday for almost 4 months. Aye ay ay Dios Mio! Divertido, si!!

In a strange twist, this Sudoku “machine”, the exerciser that was supposed to pump heavy iron in my dumbbell mind became my go-to relaxation elixir.

The brain stimulator became the soothing pillow to relax my poor worn-out head at the end of a challenging session of verb conjugations and long vocabulary lists en espanol.

I… we… you and I? We need to exercise our brains just like we exercise our bodies. Four more, three more … A holistically healthy approach to life necessitates exercising our physical, our mental, and our spiritual bodies.

For me, one of the main reasons and benefits of writing this blog each week is the mental workout it puts me through. I’m – marginally – more coherent in my day-to-day life because I do my weekly “exercise”.

I was strongly reminded of this last week when reading a chapter in Neil Pasricha’s book The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything (what can I say… I’m a self-help junkie! HELP!!). (Aside: I try to have at least 2 books on the go at any one time… one a non-fiction one like the book above, and a fiction book to nourish and stimulate my creative side … my (pseudo-) fiction book choice currently is The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer)

Pasricha talks of the final column, written in 2005, of famed New York Times columnist William Safire. Offered as Safire’s “retirement” column, it really was something far more than that.

William Safire

William Safire

I’ll let Safire explain in his own words…

The Nobel laureate James Watson, who started a revolution in science as co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, put it to me straight a couple of years ago: “Never retire. Your brain needs exercise or it will atrophy.”

Why, then, am I bidding Op-Ed readers farewell today after more than 3,000 columns? Nobody pushed me; at 75, I’m in good shape, not afflicted with political ennui; and my recent column about tsunami injustice and the Book of Job drew the biggest mail response in 32 years of pounding out punditry.

Here’s why I’m outta here: In an interview 50 years before, the aging adman Bruce Barton told me something like Watson’s advice about the need to keep trying something new, which I punched up into “When you’re through changing, you’re through.” He gladly adopted the aphorism, which I’ve been attributing to him ever since.

Combine those two bits of counsel – never retire, but plan to change your career to keep your synapses snapping – and you can see the path I’m now taking. Readers, too, may want to think about a longevity strategy.

We’re all living longer. In the past century, life expectancy for Americans has risen from 47 to 77. With cures for cancer, heart disease and stroke on the way, with genetic engineering, stem cell regeneration and organ transplants a certainty, the boomer generation will be averting illness, patching itself up and pushing well past the biblical limits of “threescore and ten.”

But to what purpose? If the body sticks around while the brain wanders off, a longer lifetime becomes a burden on self and society. Extending the life of the body gains most meaning when we preserve the life of the mind…

… So I told The Times’s publisher two years ago that the 2004 presidential campaign would be my last hurrah as political pundit, and that I would then take on the full-time chairmanship of Dana (a research foundation). He expressed appropriate dismay at losing the Op-Ed conservative but said it would be a terrible idea to abandon the Sunday language column. That’s my scholarly recreation, so I agreed to continue. (Don’t use so as a conjunction!)

Starting next week, working in an operating and grant-making foundation, I will have to retrain parts of my brain. That may not make me a big man on hippocampus, but it means less of the horizon-gazing that required me to take positions on everything going on in the world; instead, a welcome verticalism will drive me to dig more deeply into specific areas of interest. Fewer lone-wolf assertions; more collegial dealing. I hear that’s tough.

But retraining and fresh stimulation are what all of us should require in “the last of life, for which the first was made.” Athletes and dancers deal with the need to retrain in their 30’s, workers in their 40’s, managers in their 50’s, politicians in their 60’s, academics and media biggies in their 70’s. The trick is to start early in our careers the stress-relieving avocation that we will need later as a mind-exercising final vocation. We can quit a job, but we quit fresh involvement at our mental peril…

…how many of us are planning now for our social activity accounts? Intellectual renewal is not a vast new government program, and to secure continuing social interaction deepens no deficit. By laying the basis for future activities in the midst of current careers, we reject stultifying retirement and seize the opportunity for an exhilarating second wind.

Medical and genetic science will surely stretch our life spans. Neuroscience will just as certainly make possible the mental agility of the aging. Nobody should fail to capitalize on the physical and mental gifts to come.

When you’re through changing, learning, working to stay involved – only then are you through. “Never retire.”

Yup. Never retire.

Find a new sport to delve into. Volunteer at the local college. Take an online course in winemaking. Sign onto a building crew at Habitat for Humanity. Study to get certified as an Undertaker. Join a theatre club. Join a book club. Join a bowling or golf club.

Whatever… wherever…whenever… you find that youthful lightning bolt of enthusiasm or excitement? That will be the magnet that pulls you out of “retirement” and into a sense of usefulness and aliveness in your days.

Make sure your brain sends new signals through the synapses of discovery feeding the fires burning inside you as surely as your heart pumps life-giving blood to your active muscles.

Reach toward that crimson sunset of each day with an eager anticipation of a beautiful sunrise to greet your morning eyes.

Yup. Screw retirement! Oops! Sorry about the language.

How thoughtless of me.

Your cup is empty. Can I offer you a refill?

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The Retirement Race?