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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mortality Interrupted

I feel like I've been running from one fire to another, most of my own making. But I had a curious epiphany that probably won't matter to any of you under 50. Just remember this post when you get there.

A year doesn't go by when I don't take some sort of continuing education. But lately, I've had to temper my indulgences with my eventual mortality.

Deep down I still think I'm going to live forever...though all the signs seem to indicate otherwise. Drats!

The other day, I mentioned to Greg that I'd like to take a certificate program in digital design. It would be an advanced set of courses in all the latest software. The price tag is high. The university offering this program is one of the best in that field.

Let's not forget the price of the new and improved software. Tack on another $1500.  Oh, and my present computer is reaching its memory and speed capacity. Add another thousand or more.

Now Greg denies me nothing. (It's a fatal flaw with him.) But even I had to admit that enrolling in this program has limited potential for me. If I was 20 years younger, I'd jump at it because it would open all kinds of doors. 

It would open the same doors for me at my present age, but I don't plan to be doing this 20 years from now. ...I don't think. (I've learned never to say never.)

Chances are good I'd go back to writing or back to my canvasses and oils. Once I hit my 80s I'll probably be more interested in saving the planet than designing a holographic cover for anyone.

My mother is in her mid 80s and she's as spry as they come, but I've noticed as she's slowed down that her interests have changed. I suspect it'll be the same for me.

Is it strange to think ahead 20-25 years in the future? I do this regularly but I wonder if it sounds peculiar to others.

How far ahead do you plan your career(s)? What will you be doing at 80 years of age?


Angela Brown said...

The farthest I plan is about 5 to 10 years. At 80 years of age, well, I'd just be happy to be alive at 80. :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: When I was your age, I planned in 5-10 year increments too. As I've gotten older it occurred to me that I need to plan for my eventual 'retirement'.

Cate Masters said...

You're in reasonably good health, and honestly far from old. Don't let what might happen in the future keep you from doing what you love now. And you have an obvious talent for it, so you'd profit later from this investment now.
*said the woman in her mid-fifties* :)

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: It's not my health that tempers me but the money. University is a lot more expensive than when I went last. Oy!

Re: ...what you love now.
My mother is always nagging me to do what I enjoy. But her idea of enjoyment is traveling. Mine is working.

Hence, she always thinks I'm depriving myself when in fact that's when I'm happiest.

LD Masterson said...

Well, I will admit the promise of a 20 - 30 year warranty on something isn't as much of a selling point as it once was, but I think the question on the design course is do you want to take it? Would you enjoy expanding your design skills and using the latest software to do new things? If so, it's worth the money. If not, then you should consider the career ROI.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Will it be a good investment? That's what I ask now that I'm in my 50s.

If you love to do it and you're pretty sure you'll get that money back (and then some), then go for it!

Mike Keyton said...

The problem is I think I'm still thirty. I suspect it's a useful design flaw common in all of us. Other than the expense entailed in that course(I understand the logic in that) I'd keep on thinking you were thirty, Maria. To do otherwise is to hand Death your visiting card

R. Mac Wheeler said...

Only way to stay young... keep the mind active.

Now...what was I going to do?

Jennifer Oberth said...

Hmmm, an interesting topic. I plan the next few years but think about the next twenty. Twenty years seems so far away, though, I'm not sure who I'll be or what I'll be interested in. Except for writing - I know I'll be writing until the very end.

I say go for the course if it'll do you any good. What's the use of being older and being able to do things if you don't do them because you might be old twenty years from now? You could flip it around and think, I'd better do this now because I'll have fun with it now. Also, think about the technology you'll be learning - it'll probably be outdated in a few years. You’ll last longer than the knowledge!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do this too. My husband is like yours - he doesn't deny me anything. Makes you be very careful what you wish for, doesn't it?

I never get tired of learning or trying something new, but like you, I have started to consider what use it will be compared to the cost. Cost is a HUGE factor. I won't, for instance, pay money for a writing retreat or conference. It's possible (I suppose) that such a thing would greatly improve my writing and set me on the path to fame and riches. But... probably not so much, right? I don't dare use my husband's retirement fund to take a chance like that.

These days, I often say that I wish I'd become a midwife back when I went to college in my 30s/40s. That would have been MUCH better than the wasted geology degree I got. Sure, I could do it now, but why? I'm almost 60 and my feet hurt. I wouldn't last a day as a midwife.

Seriously, I want a do-over.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Will I enjoy it? Probably--after my initial 3 week break in period (where I whine and moan that I'm the dumbest brick on earth).

The question is, can I afford it? I don't want to sponge off our retirement funds so I have to be able to pay for this entirely from my earnings.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I could go either way, but if I commit, that means I'd feel obligated to keep designing for the next 20 years to make the investment worth it.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: LOL. I hear that!

I always think I'm 30 until I sprain something.

But 30 isn't what it used to be. Most of my younger friends can't keep up with me.

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: Ha! I hate when I go into a room and forget why I went in there.

Rebekah Loper said...

Well... I'm in the special case of not necessarily having a career, other than pursuing writing, which honestly I have to treat writing as if it's not a career because otherwise it begins to feel like a burden.

Hubby and I did have a heart-to-heart (you know, the kind where you're exercising each other's lung capacity) the other day, because I was feeling confused and needed some things laid out straight.

Because I used to work. I used to work full-time, and while I could write around it, I was always so very exhausted, both emotionally and mentally. I was not pleasant to be around.

Eventually I burned out, though I waited to do so until after we'd paid off the car, and I quit my job. I haven't gone back to work full-time since.

I have held a few part-time jobs since then, but they've always ended up not working out long-term. The first one because hubby got a new job (a much better job!) and my hours wouldn't work with his (and we've only got one car), the second I was laid-off because of budget cuts, and the third... my boss just stopped calling me in? Not really sure what happened with that one. I never quit, and she never actually fired me, but I worked on an 'on call' basis, so yeah...

But hubby and I had talked about me going back to work, or not going back to work, before. But he always ended it with "I want you to do what you feel you need to." He'd never told me straight out if it was actually okay if I never went back to work. And sometimes the budget would drastically improve if I did work, too.

But we're also to the point of our lives where if we're going to have children, we want to start having them. And that IS a 20-yr commitment, at the very least, so I have been gearing my thoughts more toward the long-term lately.

And at 80 years of age (which is still a little more than 50 years away for me), I want to be established on a sustainable farm, be a best-selling author, and surrounded by children and grandchildren.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: You make a good point about technology. That's one reason none of us can afford to stop learning.

The tech we use today didn't even exist 20 years ago. Today's smart phone has more computing power than the computers they used on the first Apollo mission.

It's scary-awesome.

Maria Zannini said...

Marlene, I heart you! :) I could've written your comment. You understand my dilemma exactly.

I don't like to take advantage of Greg's generosity. As part of this partnership I have to think of the whole and not just my needs or wants.

It's possible to meet in the middle though. I could invest in the new software and teach myself. Not as easy but it would save a big chunk of change.

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: Children are definitely a 20 year commitment!

When I was your age--or probably younger we set a goal for a homestead where we could raise our own (organic) food.

It took a lot of years and a lot of saving, but we managed it (twice!) before we turned 50. Basically, we lived off my paycheck and saved his.

It's tough in the early years because you need everything. And if you have kids...well, that's an expense where you can't afford to scrimp.

Luckily (or unluckily) for us we weren't blessed with children. So all the money that would've gone to them went instead to the country home we envisioned.

It's a shame we had to work like dogs all those years but it paid off in a big way. All the sacrifices were worth it.

Every path is different. But as long as you're both on the same path, at least you'll arrive at your destination at the same time. :)

Diane Carlisle said...

I have to admit, I'm a professional student. I have to learn always. When I get bored, I read and learn new programming languages or new technology.

If you have the means, do what you want today. Learning can become a hobby, there's nothing wrong with that, even if you never use the knowledge in your career.

I'm reading this book called "Die Empty" and the premise is that when you are on your death bed, you should not feel that you have more you wish to accomplish. Do everything you feel like now, so you will have no regrets.

Good luck!

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: My 'death bed scene' is always on my mind. I think that's why I've done so many different things. If it's on my bucket list, I'll find some way to get it done.

You only get one ride on that pony and I want to do it all before my time is up.

Jenny Schwartz said...

"Every path is different" is so true, Maria. I guess that's why advice seldom works out :)

At eighty I want to be writing. Nice simple ambition. We'll see!

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: I haven't come across advice yet that's one size fits all.

I marvel at people in their 80s. It gives me hope that I'll be just as vigorous (and smart alecky).

Jennifer Oberth said...

I had three grandparents make it into their 80s and two who are set to make it into their 90s - I'm so blessed to have seen this and they're still 'all there' and they always make me laugh. I have high hopes for my making it so far into my own future!

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I keep reading that we're all likely to live into our 80s.

As long as the quality of life is there, I'm on board. :)

Heredity helps too. You're lucky in more ways than one. I adored my grandparents.

Shelley Munro said...

I like to enjoy my now, so I don't think too far into the future. Hubby and I have one parent each and they're both in their 80s. I'm hoping I will make it there to spend my pension. :)
At least I am saving for the future.

Anne Gallagher said...

I'd like to go back to school and get my MFA. Just because I can, not because I'd use it. Maybe. I suppose I could teach at some point. hmmm. Maybe.

Not really looking at 80. More like 60. My daughter is still young, while I'm just past 50. I like writing, but wish I could write faster and publish more during the year. But I know I'll never go back to a full time job. This writing gig is the best of both worlds.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: Reaching 80 is plan #1 for me too. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: Many years ago when I was at university, I had a very good friend who was in his 60s and retired. He went back to college for nothing more than to learn how to paint.

He was wonderful and inspiring. I used to love to hear his stories. He lived a few more years after graduating and produced some of the finest landscapes I'd ever seen.

He never made a name for himself (most artists don't) but he was happy doing what he loved best. And what a beautiful legacy he left.

Sarah Ahiers said...

"Is it strange to think ahead 20-25 years in the future?"

Not strange at all! Just prudent

Rula Sinara said...

Really interesting post, Maria. I think one thing that changes in how we see the future and plan is that we become more practical as we get older (in general at least).

I agree on 'never say never'. I've had more than one career (I count being an author as one) and I totally believe that we aren't limited to just one. Growing up, I believed you had to decide what you were going to be and that was it. No turning back. Now I believe that we have to be open to change...sure we have to think practically and realistically too...but if a person isn't happy then they need to be proactive in making changes. On one hand, life is long enough for multiple careers, but too short to waste time hating what you're doing or not fulfilling dreams.

Of course, there's a difference, like you've pointed out, between just being commitment phobic or bored and thinking things through or finding a way to make it doable. I can see your point about turning 80. Like you said, one has to weigh the investment in the change with the return so to speak ;). It also depends on how passionate you are about something.

And on a quick side note...I just got baby chicks and it made me think of the ones you had in a brooder. I told myself that if I end up needing tips, I can ask Maria lol ;).

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Sometimes Greg calls me strange and I have to ask if I'm the only one. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: Baby chicks!! I'm so excited for you.

Chicken farming is a career move too, you know. LOL.

I will definitely check out your links later tonight. I've got some work to finish before I can cruise the interwebs.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Maria
It's something worth thinking about. My mother turns 80 this August and she plays tennis twice a week. As for myself at 80, I hope to be living by the sea, walking each day, and with great hope still writing.

I think if you can afford to do what you want to do now, well do it. :)

I think it's great to keep the mind stimulated.

Maria Zannini said...

Suzanne: Good for your mom! I love to hear stories like that.

Anonymous said...

I haven't thought much beyond getting all the wee beasties through high school :)

I'm sure once that's accomplished longer term goals will be more prudent. I don't think you're crazy to be looking that far out.

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: Parenting is such a huge commitment. But 20-25 years later, it's just you (and hopefully the spouse).

Then you have to think about what you want most.