“So much to do, so little time.” That cliché never meant much to me. The “so little time” part had no meaning. I was busy with my life and there was always tomorrow. It seemed as if I had all the time in the world. Careers go fast if you are busy and engaged. University teaching, for example, is not as simple or easy as most imagine if you take it seriously. In my case, like many professors, I was constantly challenged by students who were either ill-prepared or thought they already knew everything there was to know. Many felt they merely had to get through this class in order to get that “piece of paper.” Any class was just another obstacle to getting the college degree.
Many unprepared students lack not only information about the world and about diverse fields of study; they also lack the critical thinking skills needed to excel in any field. That seems to be no deterrent to the ability of humans to be certain about whatever they happen to believe. Many just do not reflect on how they came to believe what they believe. It is very difficult to teach adults or even post-adolescent college students how to think clearly when most of the forces affecting their lives push them to believe one thing or another regardless of the evidence. Too much education is about accepting knowledge because of the authority behind it, rather than the evidence for it. Yet, many of my students retained their underlying curiosity despite the appallingly poor elementary and high school education that failed to prepare them for “higher learning.”
So here I am, more than a decade into ‘retirement’ now, with so much to do and so little time, it seems, to do all the things I want to do. The term “retiree” always struck me as an odd word with a rather ominous tone, like “Senior Citizen.” In some cultures, for example in the few “Blue Zones” around the world, where an inordinate number of elders live beyond 100 years, the local language has no word for “retirement.”
I have always liked the sounds of Spanish. “Jubilado” is the Spanish equivalent of “retiree” in English. “Jubilación” is “retirement” in Spanish. Interestingly, the biblical meaning of “Jubilee” is “a yearlong period observed by Jews once every 50 years, during which Jewish slaves were to be freed, alienated lands were to be restored to the original owner or an heir, the fields were to be left untilled, and all agricultural labors were to be suspended. Lev. 25.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/jubilee?s=t). It seems that the underlying theme was not unlike our notion of a “vacation,” a distinct break with the ordinary oppressiveness of everyday life. Yet, those long-living denizens of the Blue Zones don’t take vacations, they just live consistent happy lives uncomplicated by industrial modernity.
Jubilee can also refer to the cancellation of all debts by the sovereign in ancient times when the accumulation of debt had become too burdensome and the concentration of wealth to extreme for the economy to function well. Wait, does that sound familiar? We may very well need a jubilee today. (For a fascinating account of debt and money in history, read David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years.)
It all seems a matter of how human groups have defined their relations to material objects in relation to one another. Most folks today look at money and debt as absolutes. They are not.
Nobody has cancelled my debts; thus, I remain the “Mad Jubilado.”
NOTE: An earlier version of this post first appeared in http://www.aparallelworld.com, a site that brought environmentally conscious consumers together with like minded vendors in their area, until trolls and Russian bots took it down by so disrupting it that it could not continue on its small budget… a sign of the times…