As an author and humorist, Reid Champagne is known for his absurd & sophomoric observations of everyday life. While the story of how Reid met wife Carol (after being widowed late in life) is so sweet it belongs on Hallmark, his family would argue his inept & smart-ass tendencies belong on a 2020 reboot of Grumpier Old Men.
The porch: where ambitions go to die
“Goodness, it’s already quarter to ten,” Carol recently observed one morning. Yes, my love, time flies, I replied with my inner voice, especially when we don’t get out of bed until quarter to nine. I didn’t see the need to call attention to the lateness of the morning that we’d finally slithered out of bed. In our defense, it was an unusually late a.m. hour to get up, given that we’d gone to bed around that time the previous p.m. Needless to say, retirement has been one of the easiest “life events” which I have embraced with the enthusiasm and energy of… a three-toed sloth.
I turned into a football during the bowl season…I got better
It’s already been seven years since I last punched a clock. Literally, since my last job was an entry level call center position I took on my 61st birthday, due to the more or less collapse of my benighted freelance career. It was fitting that I hated and dreaded that job, given that my entire working life was characterized by gradations of that same hatred and dread. I was once poised to climb the corporate ladder through the cavernous bureaucracy of a multinational food company. Yet each rung of the ladder promised only an expanded and weightier version of protecting the rump of the increasingly inflated ego of a rising star above me in the fast-paced world of paper shuffling and blame avoidance. For more than twenty-five years I found the work and people increasingly insufferable, until one day, at age 50, I chucked it all and declared (in my inner voice), I will write for a living.
Carol says if I sit long enough, I will turn into a muppet.
It was a moment of enlightenment, for what I was to discover over the next ten years was that my abilities as a reliable provider lay solely in the realm of the insufferable, the dreaded and the hated. It was a quandary that I managed to outlive to my utter surprise and boundless joy.
People who struggle with retirement will tell you they miss the people and the structure a 9-5er provided them, the two elements that repelled me the most during my tenure in the workaday world. But I see in this moment that my retrospective on work is threatening to stir up a reservoir of bitterness and vile and get me off my topic for the day. Which is a meditation on time, and the spiritual growth that can come from its wasting. I’ve come to see that good time management is the true enemy of self-actualization and transcendence.
These feet were made for…I forget
When Carol and I began our life together, she had earlier committed to a job at a Laguna Beach arts center. Each morning, dressed and cheerful, she drove off to work, as I waved, not with envy of her structure, but with the self-conscious guilt of knowing that when she returned home in the evening, she would find me within the same coordinates of couch I had repaired to immediately after waving goodbye that morning. Exchanging the account of the events of our day was decidedly one-sided, yet I was serenely satisfied with my meager offering of “reading, writing and staring at a wall.” Carol would look at me with an expression that suggested I might do with some extra watering myself, along with her rose bushes.
I’ve noticed in this -what?- semi- plasmic state of mine that time neither passes more slowly nor more quickly, just more peacefully and enjoyably. That there’s a lot to be said for this meditative state. (Or is it vegetative?) Carol’s been after me to eat more vegetables. What better way to honor her wish than to become one.
Ok. Which one of you just suggested “potato?”
In any event, I hope subsequent blogs will demonstrate how wasted time is time well spent.