Saturday, May 5, 2007

NPR - A view and questions

This is a photo from Voluteer Park in Seattle, looking west to downtown (Space Needle in the distance), at the entrance to the Seattle Asian Art Museum. I go there the first Thursday of every month on my errands around Seattle before going to my life coach. I was sitting on the base for the Dark Sun sculpture (below). It was a great day. The wind was blowing in from the west, into where I was sitting. The sun was out, the temperature between cool and warm, and the air quiet except for the occasional airplane flying overhead in the landing pattern for Sea-Tac Airport.

While sitting there in the mid-afternoon I thought about my retirement. I was watching the people going about their life, seemingly unaware of the day. Some elderly couples on the frequent walk around the park, parents with babies congregating together in a field, parents playing with small kids, couples playing freesbie, and the groups going to and from the Museum. I wondered if they realized how good the day was and the rest of the world. But it got me to thinking about life in retirement.

Well, some questions came to me in a sequence of thinking about my retirement, something I don't know how many people think about it once they get to their retirement but I thinking about the world at large, the events happening around the world that afternoon, where I am in life, and where I was at that moment. And these questions came into my mind.

One, did I earn my retirement? Well, I started working at 17 and retired at 56, so it was a long time working, including 4 years in the US Air Force and 28 years with the USGS. It seems reasonable to accept I've earned it, but I was thinking about my benefits when I read about all the people without an annuity or lost theirs late in life from corporate bankruptcies. Was being a public servant acceptable to say I know live on the government retirement fund? Well, millions do and it's the most profitable retirement package going today (and they say the government can't do anything right).

Two, did I deserve it? Well, I worked hard and can show a lot of my contributions to the USGS in various annual data and investigation reports. I think it's worth it to say I feel ok about my career. I sacrificed some career opportunities and promotions to focus on the work and the staff and providing public service. We make our choices in our life and our career, and I feel good about mine.

And three, is it fair and right? With all the people in the world, most people in the US live in the top 10-20% of the world, and I'm likely in the higher part of that range. I have no debts outside the occasional normal small ones. I'm in good health, my physician thinks so despite problems keeping an exercise program going. And I have some interests to keep me going for the rest of my life with ideas for more.

In short, I think I tried my best with what I had and while I can't change being born when, where and to whom, I know I didn't do harm and even helped. So is that fair and right? I don't know. I also don't know what will happen. No one knows that, and where I'll be in even a few years. I can plan and hope, and leave the rest to the circumstances of life in the world today.

Thoughts on a sunny afternoon in the park.

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