March 2011


 

 

My father used to joke with his doctor that he was keeping him alive longer than he could afford. He died aged 86.

His expectations and template for later life were based upon his father’s experience and his father’s before him……

I recall reading somewhere that about 50 years ago most (men) retired in their mid to late 60s and probably died within an average of three years. The model of retirement was just a few years “pottering around”….

All that’s changed…….and is still changing…….

  • Statutory retirement at 65 and the state pension were introduced when the average length of life was around 50.
  • Average length of life is now around 80 and the average retirement age is 61. 
  • Therefore the post-retirement period may occupy a quarter of our life.
  • Another 22 years of life for the average man of 65 – another 25 for the average woman of 65.
  • More people are reaching 65 (8 in 10 men and 9 in 10 women).

 But we haven’t changed our view of what’s to come……understandably the advice and warnings are around financial provision and health concerns… but few coax us to think about our dreams for this quarter of our lives…(That’s  a lot of cups of coffee).

 We’re used to being encouraged to have expectations and dreams for other stages of our lives but not it seems for this quarter of our life.

 It’s like training for a marathon and somehow not thinking about the last 6.5 miles… sort of getting three quarters of the way through the race and then simply hoping for the best….. so in the New York Marathon that would be like crossing over the Willis Bridge into the Bronx at 20 miles and forgetting about Central Park!

I’m reflecting as I gaze into my cup of coffee today (Tanzania Nyamtimbo Peaberry purchased from Sweet Maria’s http://www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.africa.tanzania.php  – apparently best to roast to City + or Full City + ).

I’ve been experimenting with my new coffee roaster – the Gene Café. It’s completely different from my iRoast2. I’m in new territory and frankly I don’t exactly know where……I’m not sure I’ve got this roast “right”… that is have I really brought out the delights of this particular bean?  The wonder and joy of the Gene Café also means that I’m thrown overboard into the sea of roasting. I now need to watch the changing colour of the  beans as they roast… to listen to the “first crack” as well as get used to the foibles of the new machine, not least the undulating voltage in France……

Ah La France!…we’ve been here now for 16 months…. Whenever people ask me “How’s my French?” I’m reminded of a passage in Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson:-

When I told friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages”. “Why no”, I would reply with a certain pride, “only English”, and they would look at me as if I were crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.

Then I recently read this passage in Being Wrong (adventures in the margin of error) by Kathryn Schulz:-

As we get older, the learning curve decelerates, and all these things drop off exponentially. We make fewer mistakes, function more efficiently, and come to share with other adults certain baseline beliefs about the world. But we also spend much less of our time in anything remotely akin to exploration, learning and play. The pleasurable mistakes of childhood disrupt our lives less often, partly because the world is less novel to us, and partly because we don’t seek out whatever novelty remains – or at least we don’t do so with the same zeal (and same institutional support: classrooms, afterschool programs, summer camps) as children.

There are exceptions, of course. Long after we have left behind the error-rich kingdom of childhood, we find ways to put ourselves in the path of wrongness in order to grow and change. Take the example of travel, like children, travellers explore the unknown- where, also like children, they routinely make linguistic errors, violate social codes, and get lost, literally and otherwise…….

………Sometimes, we want to be the toddler in Times Square. We travel to feel like a kid again: because we hope to experience the world as new and because we believe the best way to learn about it is to play in it. In travelling……. we embrace the possibility of being wrong not out of necessity but because it changes our lives for the better.

I take another sip of coffee…I have no idea what’s going on……Ah bliss…..  it tastes great!

My last post was on June 11th 2010 . I look back on the period since then as though it was covered in ice… it’s felt like we have been stuck in a frozen time.

We’re now back in Nice after nearly nine months of to-ing and fro-ing between London, Hamburg and Nice….uncertainty….anticipation…… Only now does it seem possible to bring about a thaw.

A lot has changed during that time.

My father in law died in September… My close friend who I wrote about in my last post underwent a second operation to remove another tumour from his brain and he subsequently died in October.

I guess he was somebody I believed I could depend upon, he would always make time , he’d be there.. but now he’s not… so my vision of the world has needed to change……

I have been reading a great book by Kathryn Schultz  – Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error – http://www.beingwrongbook.com/                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I I think I have experienced something Kathryn describes as “being between belief systems”… a  very uncomfortable place to be…..neither here nor there…… A belief that things, well people, will stay the same .. be there… and then they aren’t……it’s now a world without them….and in time I’m adjusting to this new model of the world.

However it’s also a world which now has Ted! During that time my (first) grandchild Ted was born on 29th August and as for change here’s a photo soon after he was born….

and now six months later……wow!

So with the passage of time slowly thawing I feel my optimism & curiosity returning,  Oh and incidentally I have a new coffee roaster…… 

a Gene Café…..but more of that later…..

It’s definitely time to wake up and smell the coffee………..