September 12, 2009
Originally published May 29, 2004
I've been in a really existential mood lately. I spent a lot of time in Costa Rica just examining my life, thinking about how I got where I am today and where I'll go from here. I didn't come up with a whole lot of answers, but I did come to realize one thing.
Most of my life, from the age of six, has been run by schedules, time-tables, deadlines, and the relentless ticking of a clock. I always had to be somewhere on time, do something on time or finish my work on time. I had assignments to complete, classes to attend, "deliverables" to deliver and places I had to be. Bejus! No wonder I have gray silver hair.
When Kerr-McGee fired me retired me, they gave me a nice watch as a going away present. Isn't that ironic? Why the hell would I want a fucking WATCH when I don't have to work anymore? I lived 24 years of my life on a Work Schedule, and I was on call for 24-7 most of that time. I looked at that watch and laughed out loud.
I've never taken it out of the box it came in and I doubt that I ever will.
I like being bored now. I'm not talking about sitting around a twiddling my thumbs. I mean the freedom a person feels when he or she doesn't HAVE to do much of anything. On my trip to Costa Rica, I really didn't plan a goddam thing. I bought my plane tickets, arranged for lodging and transportation, but other than that, I played everything on the first bounce.
If I felt like touring, I toured. If I felt like reading, I read. If I didn't feel like doing a damn thing, I didn't do anything. In Martin Antonio one morning, I was nodding in a lawn chair by the hotel swimming pool and I thought about getting up, walking about 50 feet to the bar and buying myself some fruity rum drink with an umbrella in it. But that seemed like too much work for such a beautiful day, so I just went to sleep in the chair.
I don't fear boredom. In fact, I wrap it around me like a warm, fuzzy blanket today, and I find it very comfortable. I like not needing a watch anymore. My body clock is all the time-keeper I require.
I met two retired school teachers from Colorado when I was in Arenal. ("Recovering educators," as they described themselves.) They were very friendly ladies and I had dinner with them a couple of evenings.
But they did one thing that drove me nuts. They had every waking moment of every day planned right down to the minute. They had a SCHEDULE to follow. That's not a vacation; that's just work by a different name. I got tired just watching them dash after tour buses and worry about where they were supposed to be next.
I'll never live like that again. Anybody want to buy a really nice watch? I have one that I'll sell cheap.
I don't need it anymore.
All content © Rob Smith