Finding Freedom

How quickly can a fool find his money again?

I currently have a whole bunch of debt. Hmm...I wonder how much I could get for my kidneys?
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Friday, June 16, 2006
The Weekend Loometh
On this Friday, as I cannot wait for five o'clock to come so that I can again find the bliss of some good old-fashioned rest, I am reminded again of my grandfather.

My grandfather is 83 years old, and he still owns, manages, and maintains a laundromat. He used to have three laundromats, but in the last couple of years he has sold one and he has had the other one annexed by the shopping center that it was in so that they property owner could lease the land to a huge discount grocery store. So now he has one, but that's not the point.

The point is that when I was younger (say ten to fifteen years ago), I wondered why my grandfather didn't retire. This was not because I thought that the man who taught me how to whistle was incapable of the tasks of operating his own businesses; rather, the idea of retirement was just one that various venues of entertainment had led me to believe that people over the age of sixty-five should have a right to do.

One day I asked him about retiring, and he good-naturedly answered with something along the lines of, "Why would I retire?" As I recall, he didn't really pose any more of a thought than that; he left it as a question that would force that chubby little kid (me) to think.

Oddly enough, it took me a while to figure it out.

As a child, one is idealistic. Any occupation that is not saving the world is not necessarily a bad job choice, but if you had to take a job that involved saving the world versus a job that didn't save the world, why not take the one that saves the world? And so, while I never thought poorly of my grandfather, I never understood why he would want to keep working.

That is, I never understood that until I realized this: saving the world starts at home, with yourself and your loved ones. While my grandfather may not be curing cancer or feeding the homeless (although his previous job was with NASA, which I think is pretty doggone cool), he was making sure that he and my grandmother had what they needed to live comfortably. Heck, he made enough to make sure his grandkids lived comfortably (we always received an obscene amount of Christmas presents from him and grandma).

My point? My grandfather has come to a point where he doesn't need to work to live; he is at a point where he lives to work. He doesn't retire because he enjoys providing for his family, as well as, I imagine, finding freedom in being able to maintain something that many people his age would never be able to do.

If we could all come to a place where what we do gave us so much happiness and fulfillment, I can only imagine how happy we'd be. Maybe we'd all take time to share our joy; maybe we'd all take the time to teach a child to whistle. In any case, we'd all certainly be better off.

What do you think?
posted by shamedsteven @ 1:58 PM  
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Name: Steven shamedsteven
Home: San Diego
About Me: Well, boys and girls, I, like a whole bunch of other people, made a series of "conscious, deliberate mistakes" and have ended up with a buttload of debt. What is chronicled here are some musings about the journey out.
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