Today I am relaxing, I did not sleep well last night but I am still awake, and for the first month of my retirement I can tell you what it is to be stress free. I still work some when I am in the USA, but not nearly as much or as hard as before. I have learned, more correctly I am learning, to enjoy my pensions, set a little aside for a rainy day and to enjoy each day to the fullest.
I do not follow all the news events and all the rabbit trails that I used to be so interested in. I am no longer so stuck on political events of the day, and guess what? I can and do live without Fox NEWS. I seldom rush to anything, and haven’t in weeks, since I have been here. The only thing I really need to be on time for is Sunday services, and I manage to make that each Sunday morning almost right on time. The clergy is going up the center aisle as I am going up the isle closest to where we parked our van.
There is no more rush for the events of modern life. We do not have a rat race to worry about. On the island, I have climbed off the rat race and I still manage to get things done. We shower twice a day and how refreshing it is. My wife, the three year old grandson and I seem to slowly becoming adjusting to island time. We eat when my wife gets back from her morning walk. The houseboy has the clothing washed and is starting to hang it up. The coffee is brewed and I take a huge cup of java and pour in a little milk or some times some fat free milk. In Texas, we were always rushing here and there. We had a schedule and we seemed to be bound to maintain that schedule that was not set by us but set by someone who wanted to run our lives and do so for a small amount of pocket change.
I have two clocks on my wall, one local time which never changes, it just goes around every 24 hours and we do what we please, eating, napping, sleeping, visiting, driving, gardening, pruning plants or petting the dog.
We rarely watch TV except to perhaps catch the Oscars or to see a particular sporting even from Houston or a surrounding area of Texas. We try to have our overseas Texas wall clock spring forward and fall back each year as is needed, Our local time never changes, it just goes around, while our Texas clock needs to be changed an hour or so,every now and the. My smart phone went by way of a five finger discount and I do not even miss it. I do not wear a watch, and other than a rare glance to the wall clocks to see if I can make a call to someone in the USA, I could really care less what time it was. I know the sun is either up or down, coming up or going down, and I can hear the hum of traffic in the back ground. Here we keep track of time by sun up and sun down, and seeing that I do not fish I could care less about the tides, the wind or the currents. The wind is usually cool at night, and the moon often bathes us in enough light to walk by. I do not even miss my watch, or that IPhone.In America I spent many hours going to bed early, and getting my grandson to bed early, so I could get enough sleep to be well refreshed for gainful employment the following day. I spent from 8 to 10 hours doing something I enjoy for money I really did not need. I am an undertaker and I really love helping families and conducting funerals. I am sort of like the band leader conducting the choir in the best performance possible. In Texas I worked to pay the car note, the car insurance, the car gas and maintenance, just to be able to make a few bucks that I did not really need. If I had not loved the work I would have fully retired long ago. I look at the younger generation, they work in exchange for money to pay for the car they drive to get back and forth each day. They work to provide lunches at work and food for their table at night. They pay taxes on the car, the gas and oil, the insurance, and sometimes the food they eat. They eat, sleep and get ready to do the whole thing, or a similar things, tomorrow. They provide a/c for their car and home. They heat their home and car and they buy clothing for the job, to look good. They maintain the clothing with money that they get from that job. Wow, talk about a rat race. I see the proverbial hamster on the wheel.
On the island I shower, using luke warm water, come out refreshed. I put on a t-shirt, briefs and a pair of bermudas and maybe rubber slippers, or what we call flip flops back home.
Here we turn on a fan, or an air conditioner if it is really hot. Back home they are fighting the cold and the wind, even in semi-tropical Texas, Here I prune a few plants, pinch off a few stems on my daily walk and set some more plants to root in the rich soil that abounds by our home. The weather is great, and the breeze comes in from the sea. Some of my friends fish, some, like me, pick out some choice fish at the open air market in the town that is within walking distance but a trip we usually make by car. We are looking for a hammock to hang between to smooth pillars we just had made for sleeping. No body really seems to care if I fall asleep. Perhaps a visitor will come and wake me up. The dog may bark now and then. The wife may nudge my sleeper or my grandson may beg attention, otherwise I slumber at my own desire, not a care in the world. I can sleep as long as I want, and still take my walk for cuttings of local vegetation.
I remember getting up for work, trying not to wake the baby or the wife. Both of them had another few hours of slumber and wanted to enjoy it before he was carted off to a sitter and she got in the car and drove all over hells half acre trying to make a few bucks that she really did not need. I remember using the lights long before the sun came up and long after the sun went down. We often worked late into the night. Times have changed. Now I turn on a light to write this email. Read it or don’t, I am not out to set any records. I smile and remember the old days, and thank God for my golden years and good health, over all. I no longer work 20 hours days but I do remember how exhausted those long hours would make me feel and the stress such employment caused. I like buying fish and I may try to fish for a few of my own, someday.
I usually wait for the sun to come up and take my daily walk. I guess I could get up earlier and take a chance on trudging my path with the dim street lights but why bother. When the sun goes down now, when I need my glasses, I really should probably be in bed, or a least at home, checking my email or relaxing with my grandson, and getting him ready for the night. I usually do my drinking before sundown so why bother with the street lights. Beer, soda, brewed tea and bottled water, the joys of my day, depending on the time I think it may be.
Here in the islands, we shop at a local market. All the food is fresh. Read that again, FRESH. We rarely prepare anything from a can, box, jar or cup. Tuna mean a big fish with fins and a head, Tuna comes from a counter on the vendors shelf, not from a can. Here I eat when I want. I am not pressed to eat breakfast as I head to work. I am not bound at having lunch in between services or arrangement conferences. Here I can break when I want, If I am the least bit hungry I can slip into the kitchen for left overs from the previous meal. I can satisfy my thirst with coffee, fresh brewed or made form instant powder and boiling water,my choice, as I have plenty of time and the kitchen awaits my commands. I no longer slip off wrappers from a fast food place and pay a high price and taxes and gas and oil for the gift of eating at their place or bring the food home in a sack that goes into the trash when I am done. Did I mention foot print. My waist is smaller and I do not have to diet. There really is no junk food to interfere with my diet. I keep tightening my belt. God bless food made from scratch, the way my poor mother cooked 50 years ago. Food cooked before convenience became a way of life.
I could care less about the tides, and my hunger pains. I eat when I want to. Should I want to turn on an old movie, I have HBO and TCM, all in English, my native tongue, even if it is not the native tongue of those around me. Those people my age put up with me not speaking their language very often. The younger set tries to learn my native tongue. We drink beer and soda together. I play with my grandson, and my God sons and their family. We catch up on old news and the struggles they are going through. God is good, so good. I drink when and if I am thirsty and I get up at night far more than I should. Someday I will quit drinking tea in the evening…. some day.
For the last few weeks we have talked about the stress. Both my wife and I now have far more time on or hands than in the past. In Texas we usually wanted a few more hours. We wanted hours to get ready for work, to go to work, and time to watch the local scene on TV. Now we tap on computer keys, called the internet, or if the time is right, we answer a FaceTime call, or check the wall clock and see if, more than likely, someone we know at home is up. We call for toll free, almost free, and free is great. Skype is a few pennies, FaceTime and Facebook are all but free. Vonage is cheap. Magic Jack is $20 a year. How good is that for allowing someone to reach out and touch us or letting us reaching out and touching someone in America. We actually have to find ways to fill our time. We run our time, our time does not run us. The meat is not as tender but oh, the flavor. What do you want, tasteless tender or tougher taste. Charlie and Tuna come to mind. Now even Charlie has good taste. The breeze goes by our verandas, and the cool air comes from the sea, free. Remember, free is good.
Sure some of the local workers are selling time for wages. We purchase some of their time and provide wages. We pay some of the highest wages for similar jobs done on the island. Still time goes on, we are relaxed and the work gets done. We do not worry and we have almost no stress. If I had any less stress I would most likely be dead. Local folks dream of the high life. I think of Dorothy in Kansas and remember that the best life is here, right here under my nose. Some folks here complain that they have no money. Yet every one seems to have a cell phone and many have smart phones. Some have laptops and many have tablets, so money is here, but they spend it differently. Many of the men have watches, but no one is ever on real time, every one seems to run on island time. Tomorrow, sun up, today and next week are not on the watch, but most have it on their tongue.
I guess I could bring my cheap local cell phone along with me when I take the baby to the beach. He shivers in the February ocean water, but next month he will really enjoy it, especially after the older children are out of school for the summer, Summer her is April and May, and schools start up again in June. They may have school and most days from June to March they do have school. If there is a holiday, a school conference, or the teacher is sick, no school. An unexpected day off for the kids and they never complain. Kids here learn at an early age to roll with the punches. A doctors son can have fun playing basketball with the son of a laborer. People mingle and pride is left behind for the duration of the game. I stop for a local basket ball game, or baseball or watch the kids swim. Life goes on.
I can head to the beach, a short walk away. We usually take the car but I can and often do walk. I do not take my phone. I really do not need it. I will find a missed call or an email when I get back. People that know me know I have stopped the hustle and now enjoy each day to the fullest. Some time ago, someone told me, ‘today’ is the begining of the rest of my life. I trust and obey. I no longer wear tight leather shoes and worry about polish. I now wear $3 rubber slippers that dry off when I walk in a puddle.I can feel the sand run between my toes. I can enjoy the cool salt water and hear the birds in the background. I can hear the dogs howl and the roosters crow. Chickens bob about at the beach and we pick up a few shells from the sea shore. How simple and wonderful life can be.
Tomorrow I will get that hammock. Tomorrow I will hang that hammock up between two strong pillars. Tomorrow I will do a lot of things. Right now I will press send and all my friends will know how crazy I really am, and just how blessed I am with this easy, slow pace to live. My money goes a long way and I am blessed with a good meal being cooked by our loyal houseboy. We plan for a trip in a few days and we get ready for an evening walk, perhaps just to the gate this time. No need to risk those street lights, but then again, I guess we talked about that earlier. I have nothing fancy, but yet I am the luckiest guy in the whole world. Lord I am alive, I am healthy and I am very, very blessed.