Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The autumn of my years

6 September 2017


Next year will be a year of change, lots of change. 2018 will bring me a greenfield situation in which nearly every option becomes a variable. Sometimes this prospect is overwhelming and makes me melancholic for a life with fixed options. It took me some time in realizing that these variable options are mostly sequential rather than happening parallel.

At 57, I am in the autumn of my years which is mostly a relief. I do not wish to be younger and also do not envy younger people. Since this week new neighbours have arrived. Their blissful noises reminded me of 1993, when I arrived in my current home. Life was full of material expectations back then (eg, promotions). Now my expectations are mostly immaterial (eg, learning).

I am looking forward to my early (self) retirement. I still plan to travel to Italy and resume my Italian language courses. I imagine escaping the Dutch winters in the southern parts of Italy. The last couple of years, I have grown accustomed to living a slow life. This is probably the main criterion in my search. It translates by looking for areas close to a forest and water.

In my recent blog on Liberalism, I mentioned that “being free and poor is rather meaningless”. This comes close to a part of a Jean-Paul Sartre quote: “[] freedom as the definition of a man [who] does not depend upon others []”. I am – and feel – privileged to be able to do the things that I do, like writing these (blog) articles without repeatedly asking for donations.

This blog is part of my legacy. Several years ago, I introduced myself to someone and he suddenly realised that I was the same person as the one he had noticed in some old audit files. Obviously, my jobs are also part of my legacy but it feels as if I was just pushing paper. Writing helps me in various ways – and hopefully others too.

Today is the first time that I realise that each day is a greenfield to me. My scheduled activities are minimal: eating and sleeping. The rest is for reading, thinking and learning, and writing about it. Not being able to write makes me edgy. Writing unwinds me and puts me in a state of trance.  Quite often, my writing drains my (mental) energy; even more than a day at the office.

I am slowly realising that certain things in my life are connected: forest, nature, sea, slow life, and also writing. So far, I saw them as some random and non-intersecting variables, although I admit that my subconscious knew better. I am just no longer interested in “life in the fast lane” (lyricssong, Wiki). I’m only interested in a slow life with all of its consequences.

Recently, someone asked whether I’m working again. I didn’t bother answering. I have learned my lesson that having work can be worse than not having work. My usefulness is no longer derived from what role I fulfil at work but from who I am in life. Not working doesn’t make you (feel) useless but not living will do that. The danger lies in the belief that working equals living. Now I’m in the autumn of my years, and I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs.

It Was A Very Good Year (1961) by Frank Sinatra – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


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