Somber Sourness on a Saturday

Last night’s brilliant light shows and rolling thunderclaps seem to have disappeared into a silent, dreary, cold, wet morning. I can tell by the shuddering of the few remaining leaves on the trees outside my window that there’s a breeze, but it’s not strong enough to shake even the slightest limbs and twigs. The weather app on my computer screen claims the wind is blowing from the east at one mile per hour; not the fierce gales I heard howling much of the night.

After I have my coffee, I’ll shower and shave and get dressed so I can head out to a meeting at the church. I have begun loathing meetings again, the way I did virtually my entire career in association management. I do not want to grow to detest retirement the way I detested my professional life. That would be ruinous in many ways. So I shall avoid it like the plague. I want to continue to treasure retirement as I have done thus far.

Asserting one’s dedication to enjoying life does not necessarily make enjoyment appear out of thin air. It’s hard to say what constitutes joy when the act of opening one’s eyes seems sheer drudgery. I cannot force a smile this morning, at least not thus far. I haven’t looked in the mirror yet, but I suspect a chance visual encounter with myself would not go well. Even the thought of food does nothing to cheer me; in fact, the thought of food is an unpleasant one. That rarely happens. Coffee has, so far, been all right, but the very idea of food is enough to cause me to wince; I can feel the sneer on my face when food enters my thoughts.

Last night, I watched a documentary, American Factory. It presented the story of a shuttered factory in Dayton, Ohio that was reopened by a Chinese auto glass manufacturer. The promise of rebirth went awry when American and Chinese cultures clashed. The message I took from the film was that American workers compare unfavorably with Chinese workers in terms of steely commitment, willingness to work hard, and dedication to “perfection.” But I also so that Chinese workers compare unfavorably with American workers in terms of commitment to family over employer and commitment to enjoying life rather than simply wading through it. Americans in the film did seem somewhat lazy in comparison to their Chinese counterparts. But Chinese seemed timid and subservient compared to their American counterparts. Interesting cultural dichotomies. But greed on both sides of the world was apparent. When I finished watching the film, I was ready to try another culture on for size; neither Chinese nor American seemed particularly alluring.

This entire writing experience is not going well so far. I think it’s time to stop. Perhaps a shower and some time away from the house will rectify things. We shall see.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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