Thursday, May 21, 2009

advantages of floating by the middle of the sea

We have all heard it.

The Question.

"What are you going to do in Mexico?"

In my case, it was tied to the question: "How are you going to survive retirement?" Of course, the subtext of both questions is: "Why are you throwing away your life?"

The worst were my friends at work. I worked for an excellent company that was the embodiment of a problem-solving machine. My work was challenging. I had every tool I could have wished.

In that type of environment, if Work is not Life, it is certainly Purpose. To abandon all of it while still at the top of one's form seemed reckless to some. Simply wasteful to others.

My answer was always the same. I will do what I do on every weekend, every evening, every vacation day. I will read. I will write. I will correspond. I will listen to music.

This week has tested my plan. I have minimized trips away from the house to attend to Jiggs's needs.

As a result, I have been able to do several things I have been unable to do during the last month.

I tore through one of Harry Turtledove's alternate history novels: Blood and Iron. Because it is simply one in a series of ten novels, there was little interesting in it. By now, I can always predict how each conflict will be resolved, how each new character will play out. But I enjoyed just sitting and reading without interruption -- other than Jiggs's occasional bark for attention.

I caught up on several of the Mexico blogs I have followed for the past year -- leaving scattered comments along the way. I also made some notes on places I will soon get out to see.

And I wrote several draft future posts. Most will need to wait for additional research. But this is the first time I have had the luxury to get ahead on what I will post.

I also used MagicJack to call several people back in the States. My brother directed me to MagicJack during his recent visit to Japan. He convinced me that I wanted some form of telephone connection from Mexico. I doubted it. I hate the telephone. But it has been a great device to stay in contact -- when I need a conversation fix.

I know. I know. I cannot keep up this routine of simply staying around the house. I would go stir crazy -- in a few months or so. But I am surprised at how satisfying the routine is.

So, what do I do?

Anything I want to do.


Calypso said...

Hombre - I think you have a lot of slowing down to do. Even your so called self directed seclusion reads a bit frenetic.

You seem to be worrying way too much and are far from being at piece with your current modus aprendi.

Having been there before you - let me report that it took fully two years to learn to relax once I left the guinea pig wheel of the working world.

Patience is going to be your new best friend or you are going to kill yourself trying to find it.

Relax - Be Happy - stop internalizing EVERYTHING and just plain start to enjoy life. Too much introspection is the death of hope.

I know this is a tough time with your dog's state of health. Like most of your readers I wish you the best on that.

norm said...

I retired this past March, I have found that I must make lists of things that need done or the days just flit away.

Felipe Zapata said...

When I quit working, my coworkers were green with envy, especially the men. Nobody questioned my motives or my sanity. Of course, I did not work with a pack of lawyers.

Learning to relax was not a problem. I was relaxed when I earned a salary.

AMY said...


"Too much introspection is the death of hope."

Wow. That really struck me. Thanks.

Islagringo said...

I worked hard to be able to get what I have today. I think I have a pretty nice house and see absolutely nothing wrong with staying in it and enjoying every minute of my time there. No need to go here and there. No need to fill my days with volunteer work or projects. I have slowed down and I love it that way. Sure, the occassional bit of flurry and wanderlust crops up and I satisfy those urges as needed also. Don't ever feel quilty for just doing nothing. It is called retirement.

Stay at home with Jiggs as long as you want and can. You will be so glad later that you did. Our prayers are with you on that one.

Larry in Mazatlan said...

Calypso just about nailed it. It took me the same two years, maybe a little less. Nobody recognizes me now when I write them. And I hear the little green monster sneeking into some of our exchanges.

Kick back and enjoy the journey.


Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

Our lives are a little different as we left Portland, Oregon not to retire but to continue to live and work in Mexico. But because I was working full time in the USA and now I am not... I sort of understand.

For me it was learning how to enjoy the everyday tasks that I hated in the USA. Reading, teaching my kids their letters and sounds, cleaning the house, but mostly cooking.

I started a blog that was only about my cooking and gardening here in Mexico and how I am relearning to love the basics.

It has been about a year and all is going well so far.

Any Calypso- SO RIGHT! I love that saying!

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- I assure you that my reading and writing activities are not yet frenetic -- even though my telling of the tale sounds that way. But, you caught the subtext. I still find myself (in the middle of just sitting and enjoying the ocean) starting to make a list of all the things I need to do and see, and then getting anxious because I am not doing them. You are correct: the art of relaxing will come. But only with patience and practice. That is why I want to spend a full year in this area -- to find its rhythms. Once I do, I will simply slip into them.

Norm -- I am doing my best to get rid of lists. I have no worries about the days flitting away. Once I start relaxing, I can then start using limited lists, again. For now, forgetting some things that need to be done is just fine with me -- and I am doing it regularly.

Felipe -- I did not discuss the envious group. They were there. Some are faithful readers of this blog. If not for personal obligations, they would be doing the same thing. As you know, being single offers a lot of alternatives not available to family men -- and women.

Unlike you, I was not a relaxed person in my job -- though I thought I was. Calypso is probably correct. it will take two years to stamp out the tension virus.

Lavachickie -- Like you, I thought that was a great line. And I suffer greatly from the affliction. Obsessing on me is the best way I know to send myself into a funk. My worrying over Jiggs is a perfect example. All of my concern will not bring back the younger, healthier Jiggs. I need to start thinking like a servant, not like an owner. I am here to give comfort, not to fix things.

Islandgringo -- Good advice. I just need to put it into practice. Because you come from the same professional background, you know how difficult that is going to be.

Larry -- Your advice has been very helpful. You looked at this stage of my move through engineer eyes, knowing that I would be indulging in a lot of the same analysis. Knowing that you were able to put away most of that analytical paraphenalia is certainly a model for me. Thanks.

Steve Cotton said...

Rosas Clan in Tulum -- While my brother was here, I took great pleasure in cooking. We both love to eat. So, we learned to cook. Since he left, I have been involved with Jiggs. You have given me a thought, though. Putting more thought into cooking may be a good way for me to get on with my daily activities while I still deal with Jiggs. I put him on the patio this morning to let him watch me clean the pool. That way, we could help entertain each other.

Nancy said...

There are many stages in life, and you've just made a big one. It takes time to adjust, but you will. It seems to me you're doing just fine.

Next step is posting every third day instead of every day! ;>}

Steve Cotton said...

Nancy -- Thanks. All I need to do is to read your earlier posts to realize that adjusting to a new place and a new style of life takes time. Your patience in building your house into the special place it is is a perfect example.

As for cutting back on the posting, I think that will come naturally as I cycle into my "normal" life here -- or wherever I end up permanently.

Joe S. said...

Steve & blogfriends, thanks for a delightful exchange this morning, much to mull over from all of you who have gone over to the retired or expate side. I'm still an obligated family guy in a rainy state but you're all pulling back the curtain just alittle for me.

GlorV1 said...

Hi Steve. Sounds like hopefully things are picking up a little. How great that you are doing the things you want to do and at your leisure. I'm glad to hear that Mr. Jiggs is barking when he wants attention or something to eat. Happy for you both.

Glenn said...

"Why are you throwing away your life?" You'll hear that forever. Some people never understand.

You've made a good start to a new adventure. Do what you want.

Steve Cotton said...

Folks -- Let me introduce you to my high sxhool friend, Joe. I suspect we will hear additional questions and comments as he starts his planning-for-retirement saga.

Gloria -- He still has a lot of spirit in a declining body. May I be that mentally spry at his age.

Glenn -- Thanks. I feel as if I have thrown nothing away.

Mexico Joe said...

I love this post. It's the same question I got when I moved to Mexico. They all ask.. Why? If you think about it for more than a minute the real question is Why Not?

Everyone always talks about retiring early, but when someone actually does it, everyone asks.. why??

I've only been here for 8 months, but I'm not leaving anytime soon.

Steve Cotton said...

Mexico Joe -- Why not, indeed. I have used that question rhetorically, as well. And, of course, it outs all of the worst fears that people imagine about Mexico -- the very same fears that kept some of our ancestors from visiting the next valley.