Not Where I Can Be Found

The sight of a doe and her fawn was Nature’s attempt to lift my spirits this morning. Thanks, Nature, but I’m not receptive to mood-lighteners this morning. I awoke with a snarl on my lips and it remains there, as if permanently etched on my face. I’m just not in the mood to do anything even remotely positive or productive. I hope this is not the perpetual state of affairs. I can only imagine surliness turning into deeply bored surliness.

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I have come to believe making snap decisions after the age of 65 is unwise in the extreme. As we age, we need time to contemplate and consider the consequences of our decisions; unlike when, in our youth, we felt certain we would survive even deeply bad decisions. The decision to make an offer on a house, for example, should be a days-long process, not a snap judgment. Of course, certain extenuating circumstances (e.g., extremely low interest rates and a severe shortage of housing inventory, far short of demand) make impossible the need to “mull it over.” But, at least, go into even a first-viewing with a maximum price and a desired price in mind. Better yet, check into rentals. Give yourself time to scope out the area and find the most appealing places…only then, find and make an offer on the ideal home. Before that, though, move around from place to place for a while. It’s too easy to fall in love with the “idea” of a place instead of its reality; a few days observing from a tourist’s point of view, looking out the motel window, can be eye-opening. Wandering could result in a decision to rent a place in New York state, replacing the previous decision to buy and settle permanently in Mississippi.

But, back to the need for geezers to make decisions in slow-motion: even the most sophisticated among us can be tricked by the most-practiced fraudster. Yesterday, I saw a house for sale that I wanted. I would have been prepared to drive several hundred miles, today, to see it and put in an offer. It was architecturally clean, with straight lines and simplicity, quite modern it its style. And, it had a pool! The price was stunningly low, under $300K, so I had to explore. After a phone call to a Zillow agent, I learned the listing was a FSBO scam. Absent that advice, I might well have blathered into a situation in which I made down payment or put down earnest money that I could never retrieve. I was too “in love” with the house to acknowledge that the price was just too good to be true. I might have gotten there eventually, but I would have needed time. No quick decisions, geezers, unless absolutely necessary.

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Speaking of buying real estate…it remains on my mind. A small place, just three or five or ten acres, with small, comfortable living quarters. And a barn stocked with a tractor and necessary and desirable attachments to make the tractor highly productive. Haven’t I gotten over this damn fantasy?! Apparently not. From a practical point of view, I recognize the idiocy of the idea. But from an idealistic and delusional perspective, it’s absolutely doable. I’m not even 70 yet! A mini-farm would require of me enough physical labor that I would burn off excess fat and tone up long languishing muscles, both in short order. And my involvement in small-scale agriculture would place me squarely in the midst of people with whom I would have theretofore had virtually no contact. Forced integration. Forced socialization. Forced engagement. Eventually, they tell me, behaving like an extrovert high on speed becomes almost second nature.

Oh, the farm…ette. Farmette. I would have to learn a lot. Boatloads of YouTube videos. Courses at a local junior college. Speaking of courses, one I’d like to take again is general welding. That’s probably not what it was called, but that’s sort of what it was. The instructor gave us some basic instructions on using a MIG-welder, a TIG-welder, an arc-welder, a plasma cutter, and a few other tools and related pieces of equipment.  Then he turned us loose. I had a blast. But I missed a bunch of classes (they were night classes) due to travel for business. Oh, I’d take that class again in a heartbeat; and then I’d hope for anonymous gifts of welding and related equipment…what I’m after would cost tens of thousands of dollars. So would the farmette, by the way. This little fantasy of mine has a financial cost to it. Along with an emotional one. I thought I’d gotten over this, dammit!

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My life is out of control. I do not control it any longer. No one does. It is just a random sequence of random events. Occasionally, I stumble upon a random person who wishes me a good day and then disappears for the rest of time. The others pass by and wave; they, too, disappear. Everyone is gone but me. And I’m not where I can be found.

About John Swinburn

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