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Thursday, 17 April 2014

How to Make Your Own Luck

By Clifford Rothband

As bizarre as it might seem when we reach retirement, at least myself, I found out that I have run out of things to do that I thought pleasurable when I was younger.

As an example, here I am in a dentist office or getting ready for a prostate exam and the attendant says, "Think of something that you enjoy, like the beach, dancing or music or playing a game. You know, get your head in a better place.”

Hey, really. I am anxious just thinking about what will come tomorrow. I am not afraid of dying. But I do fear pain.

Well, I did everything possible to prepare for this final epic or era of my lifetime and you know what? Guilt by never fulfilling my dreams stands out. Nothing worked out as I might have planned it would.

Sure I have my health, whatever that is (I am alive and breathing). Happiness, a feeling of accomplishment and usefulness are only misleading or deceptive.

I have a family, a loving playful wife, kids and grandchildren. I have had my injuries, I had a education, served our country and tried to make a better life. I've got thank you letters and plaques. We have coached kids. I've been arrested, charges always dropped.

I never smoked, or drank, not even a beer. I never did any drugs that were not prescribed or over-the-counter. I eat right and try to exercise. I seldom if ever gamble. I never really partied, played golf or tennis.

I always worked hard to support a family. I never cheated anyone, although I have been accused. That's life.

Now the point of this writing exercise is to use my brain. Let's assume our creator gave us a special gift at an advanced age. We enjoy certain freedoms in the USA, the most important are the freedom of thought, and free speech comes in close second.

When I was younger, I dreamt of travel although I never really had the time or the funds. Our short overseas excursions usually ended up sick on a ship food poisoned, third world facilities or trying to decipher a foreign dialect.

So, before our time is up, we decided now to see the USA. Not just set out for a destination but let's aim somewhere and get lost getting there. Remember Dinah Shore, "See the USA in your Chevrolet.”

Whatever vehicle rents the most economical and is comfortable, unlimited mileage and easy exchange. This maybe the nearest to a miracle in today's world. An engine light or bad tire can cost gazillions on the road. Triple A and their books are helpful. Cell phones are a necessity. Pamphlets, maps and GPS are useful.

But getting lost is the most fun. Thank goodness for the Walmarts where one can always pick up a new anything, or take a break 24/7.

The hamburger and sub shops also have an appeal, the exception being seafood on the gulf coast in Texas where BBQ reigns supreme, or the northeast where Johnnycakes and syrup or lobster are king.

You can visit friends and there are always motel rooms. We used the discount coupon books offered on the interstates. Among the lessons learned, stay away from the "numbered" named motels or those who say that they are the best.

A lot of people dream of visiting sporting events or parks. We look for history. We remember having such a bad time in the military Vietnam era and consider that "million dollar experience not worth $2."

Before my time is up I wanted to see as many points of interest - forts, war ships, military installations and museums and veterans facilities as possible. I had read and heard that the military has been reformed. Yes it has.

Great pleasure was had visiting active military and veteran facilities. Start a conversation during a meal, later on mail a hat or small gift with a location logo and you share a dream with someone else.

We all have stories but many seem to remember only the hard times. Even so, as the philosopher Fredric Nietzche wrote, "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.”

Or my grandfather's Depression era favorite saying, "Boy, you gots to be hard in this world."

Now I can write about the places we visited but those are stories on there own merit. People are more important.I have learned that making a smile maybe the most important common human trait.

As an example, a motel lobby clerk in Panama City who helped with our laptop: In conversation she said that 10 years ago after finishing school, she took this dead end boring job and offered to drive and pay her way just to travel. She made us all smile.

To end with some humor, picture this: My wife is taking photos of me in Virginia Beach> They have this enormous bronze globe with King Neptune along with life-size sharks, dolphins and creatures of the deep.

So everyone on the boardwalk is wearing bathing suits and I am posing and this attractive 30-something, redhead in a thin black dress strides up to me. "Hey Pop,” she says, “are you a tourist? Do you have some money? Let's have a good time."

Now my wife can hear it all and is laughing but not helping me from a near distance. My first thought is this is a police set up or what do I want with another woman?

Or the sexy young woman on Pensacola beach who approached me and said that she has six kids at home, no job or money, her husband is in jail and she would do anything for money.

“Yea, please go away,” was my response.

We met so many different people - many happy, some lonely, some empty, some less fortunate and most just plain working folk. Listened to so many nice stories, Saw so many faces and folk as unusual as the places we visited.

Life can be full of surprises. Sometimes one has to make your own luck.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Sounds like your wishes for retirements were fulfilled. 71-years-old and how I chose to live during this season of ife has been the most fulfilling. Thank you for sharing.

Great! Minimally expressed - yet so full. The perfect kind of writing - no unnecessary adjectives. Just a good story with a deep point.

I love this. Especially your grandfather's saying.

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