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April 12, 2009

Receiving Multiple Retirement Messages

Sometimes you realize you're seeing a lot of (something) in an unexpected cluster — neck tattoos, Cooper Minis, wrap-around glaucoma shades, etc. The things aren't remarkable in themselves, it's the density of their occurance that's significant. When I finally recognize an unexpected cluster, I wonder: what's up with that? Something new? Something I've missed? Something I should be thinking about?

The last few days I kept bumping into Retirement messages. Friday morning I met Robin and Cindy on the occasion of Robin's retirement; he looked healthy and happy. Cindy had retired a year ago, she was beaming, healthy, and happy.

Grabbing the brass ringFriday evening I went to West Mifflin on a bit of a fool's errand (look who they sent) and I was very happy to run into Laurie, a longtime colleague who retires in two weeks. She seemed very relaxed and happy to know that the brass ring was within easy reach.

In the last few days the media has chosen to sell some magazines with interesting Retirement messages. US News and World Report puts Pittsburgh in their Top-Ten Affordable Places to Retire. Forbes has just placed Pittsburgh in their Top-Ten Most Liveable Cities. (I would mention one concern: the Ten Most Miserable Cities list includes Buffalo and Cleveland, two towns we've not really that different from. Pittsburgh could become either of those places with a few key mistakes.)

And then I came across this:
Retirement in Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Fill a cup to its brim and it is easily spilled;
Temper a sword to its hardest and it is easily broken;
Amass the greatest treasure and it is easily stolen;
Claim credit and honour and you easily fall;
Retire once your purpose is achieved - this is natural.
      Tao Te Ching (by Lao-tzu.)      (link)

And then, when I was fixing some bad links I came across the story of The Kid (Michael Karl Popper) in the Animatrix, who self-disconnected himself from a shallow simulation of life designed by other people, and self-substantiated himself in the real world. When I read it I wondered, is this a metaphor for voluntary retirement? Do you have to disconnect yourself?

And then, just now, my favorite bicycle cartoon character's retirement is announced with this :

Between the third and fourth frames, the trees/bike haven't moved, it's just that the trees have grown as time passes.


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