Retirement, what is it good for?

D. Brent Miller

It seems I have been fighting this for some time. A realization. People would ask me if I am retired, and I would give them my standard answer, “I am semi-retired, but I still do a little writing and photography.” If they asked my wife, she would say, “Oh yeah. He’s retired.”

And that 1970 song by Edwin Starr keeps ringing in my head, “War! What is it good for? … Absolutely nothing.” Maybe that song sticks in my head because I was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1970 and went to Vietnam in 1971. I did my best. I served my country. But, what exactly was that war all about?

I kind of feel like that about retirement. What is retirement really all about? What is it good for? There is some reality that must be faced, and it comes with new opportunities and challenges. First, there is a lot of freedom in retirement. No schedule that you have to keep. You can sleep in, or get up every morning before 6:30 like I do with or without an alarm clock. You can do the things you want and go to places you have always wanted to see. Of course, there are financial considerations.

You can do things for others. Put others first. Serve others. There can be a lot of joy in serving others, and it’s not like work in a dreary job, where no one or few appreciate your efforts.

In retirement, I have found joy in volunteering. To serve others. To help bring someone else along or lift them up. To share skills and knowledge. Yes, there are some schedules to keep, and accountability, but there is joy. Fulfillment. Happiness.

I have concluded that I am actually not retired. I am 68 years old and a Volunteer. And, I will keep writing and photographing, but just for me. You can read along, if you want, here in these pages.

D. Brent Miller

See you on the highway.

Brent

Morning Mist on the Pond

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Mist rises from the pond as does the sun on the horizon.
There is peace in the moment, a calming scene
reminding us a place can be found that is devoid of the world’s chaos.

See you on the highway.

Brent

A Reporter’s Notebook

What would we do without notebooks—the kind you actually write in?

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I often wonder if they are becoming obsolete. Everything is digital today or soon will be, and that is a detriment of our society, our culture.

The latest book I am reading is Digital Storytelling. It’s about “capturing lives and creating community.” Thousands of years ago, before there was a written language, we had oral storytelling. Even our religious books—the Bible, the Quran, etc., began as oral histories. Even what is considered the oldest story in the world, the story of Gilgamesh, from between the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a thousand years older than the bible, was an oral story before it was recorded on baked clay tablets in cuneiform characters—a very ancient “notebook.”

And now? We have digital storytelling. Digital cameras. Digital audio recorders. Computers, laptops and iPads. What has happened to the good old pencil and paper?

Here’s what a notebook does for me. It slows me down to gather my thoughts, and then to put them on paper. Impulsive thoughts may come and go, but they are always self critiqued. That’s when a good eraser comes in or lining out that sentence or paragraph.

There is a drawback, a negative to good old fashioned pen and paper. The difficulty is coming back to something I wrote sometime ago and trying to decipher my hand writing! When it’s no longer fresh in my mind, that scribbling can be terribly hard to read. Maybe I should have paid more attention to penmanship in grade school.

On the other hand, the benefits of a notebook are portability and reliability. It takes up very little space. A notebook operates consistently even if the user does not. It can be easily carried in a pocket, purse camera gear bag, briefcase or backpack. It requires no electricity nor a wireless connection. And perhaps the most profound use of a pen and notebook is that it is capable or recording the deepest thoughts of the user, if the user is willing to reveal themselves.

So, how did this post come to be? I wrote it in a notebook, and then transcribed it on the computer. The notebook came first. The computer allowed me to  publish it.

A good old-fashioned notebook! Don’t leave home without it.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

End note: If you have never read the story of Gilgamesh, do yourself a favor and visit your library. It is a wonderful piece of ancient literature, full of friendship, love and tragedy. Enough so that one episode of Star Trek Next Generation was wrapped around this ancient story, “Darmok” Season 5, Episode 2. It first aired September 28, 1991.

Cincinnati Skyline

Mt. Adams is a good destination for Cincinnatians and a desirable place to live. The view is fantastic.

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See you on the highway … or along the Ohio River.

Brent