Tag Archives: taking risks

A Ritual of Resolutions and Risk-taking

Morning, readers.  I’m obliged you came by for a visit.

Today marks an event I never expected to see.  Old Sol’s about to light things up, shake his head and shrug when he looks down and sees I am here again, come spang around him one more time.  Sixty-nine times I’ve gone around him and come to this same spot, tipped my hat and said hi.

Here’s the reason neither Old Sol, nor I, had any reason to expect this:

Back in the late 1970s I had occasion to spend some time looking around nursing homes.  I managed to do it enough times and look them over closely enough to convince myself that we Americans haven’t kept our eye on the ball when it comes to living and being alive.

The people in those nursing homes are alive, but they aren’t overjoyed about it, and the life they’re living only has in common with actual life that the bodies and food are warm.  The caretakers roll them back and forth or they hobble between television sets, meals, games, then through the long hallways filled with the forever odor of urine, back to their rooms.

I did a lot of thinking about why that happens, those mass coffins for the living.  Of one thing I was certain.  I didn’t want it to happen to me.

The reason, I decided, people end up in those places is because they live longer than they’d have expected to, wanted to.  The reason they lived so long was that they took all kinds of measures to make certain they did, increasing the intensity and focus as the years built up on them.

Every year those elderly reduced the numbers and kinds of risks they took.  They watched their diets, quit doing things they enjoyed when they were younger, many barely did anything at all as they reached into the advanced years of retirement besides a golf game or sea cruise.

And they got what they paid for.  Lives that endured long past anything a person would call living.  They sidestepped and hid and and ran from Death, and he didn’t find them when he was supposed to.  So now they sit around strapped into wheel chairs watching rolling television screens paying the price for being too worried about dying when they were still alive.

That’s when I came to an important conclusion about how I wanted to live my own life.

From that time until now one of the rituals I’ve tried to perform around birthday time and New Years Day involves examination of the physical risks I’m taking now, and how I’m going to increase them during the coming year.  And how I’m going to stay as far as possible away from do-gooder, busybody medicos and CPR-knowers sticking their noses in my living experience getting me cross-wise with Death.

How I’m going to be out there when Death comes looking for me, in a place where he can find me, doing something I love to do.

Old Jules

Loudon Wainwright– High Wide and Handsome

Reflections of a Y2K Survivor

I was one of those weirdos who believed so thoroughly in Y2K that I quit the last years of a career, cashed in my retirement, walked away from the IRS, all the bills, a house mortgage,  totally believing it was all moot because in just a few months it would all collapse.  I figured there was  a chance high enough to bet on that everyone left after the chaos would be wandering around hungry, diseased, and dying, if the computer gurus were telling the truth.  January 1, 1999, I performed the irreversible deed.  The retirement money made a down payment on 140 acres of land in remote high desert, I drilled a well, built a cabin, stocked up on countless items the throngs of hopeless survivors would need to survive a bit longer.

I knew there was a medium possibility the IRS, the land payments, all the rest would eventually come due if Y2K didn’t happen, but I thought the consequences of it happening and me not doing it were worse than the alternative of taking the plunge and it not happening. Once a person considers seriously  the possibility that society might collapse, it’s surprising how reasonable it seems to think so.

Did my best to be a refugee camp waiting to happen. I bought a lot of chicks to be eggs and food for the future hungry.  I knew I couldn’t survive long because of the shelf-life of a medication I require to stay alive, but I had hopes a few folks could survive thanks to a lot of training and experience I’d had in woods lore, emergency management, and survival. I moved in to a tent on the 140 acres in mid-1999, until the cabin was built and the well drilled.

I spent the next 16-18 months pretty much alone, sometimes going weeks without seeing another person. It was the best time of my entire life. I loved it.  I wouldn’t change a minute of 1999 until now, but they were the hardest years I’ve ever lived.  I’m a risk taker, more than most, but I’m also a damned fool.  Fool enough to believe Y2K not happening January 1, 2000, doesn’t mean Y2K won’t ever happen.  But also fool enough to know I’m not wise enough to know when it will, nor whether it will.

This blog will include some of the material written during that time. The rest is a compilation of reflections, before and since, of my varied runs at the brick wall of something rhyming with wisdom.

Old Jules
Steve Goodman–The 20th Century is Almost Over