I was thinking of the following riddle the other day:
Question: What do you call it when you die pennyless?
Answer: Good timing
This also remined me of the February anniversary of my fathers death some years ago when he died basically of old age at 93. He had a good life, survived WW2, worked all his life, built a house and retired down south. As his only child who became privy to his financial circumstances only upon his death (since his generation kept mum on such matters), it occurred to me that had he lived another year, he would have been destitute.
Got me to thinking of my own mortality and how my generation is so much more indebt at such an earlier age. If you tally up credit card debt and student loan debt (aka, Parent Plus Loans), I’m already pennyless and I’m not yet dead. Got me to wondering if there was some place where I could turn myself in. I’ve heard the term “ward of the state” and started to wonder if that might be a viable scenario. Growing up I heard about people who “joined the circus” or the “French Foreign Legion” but I’m not sure if either of them are still around. Growing up in the Catholic tradition I’m familiar with monasteries but I’d be hard pressed to name anybody who became a monk. I actually live a monastic, minimalist, simplistic life so maybe I’m a monk already. In keeping with that monastic tradition of taking a “vow of poverty” it got me to wondering if I could pledge my remaining assets (social security, savings, retirement income and wages) and just be assured that for the balance of my life I would have “3 hots and a cot. If I got sick, I would be patched up. I’m proposing the bare necessities to keep me from starving and freezing. As far as medical attention goes, for example, if I break my arm it gets set but if it’s anything terminal or debilitating they just numb me up keeping me relatively comfortable and let me drift away.
Many would be shocked and resistant to my proposal but I wonder how many from my generation are exhausted and would be willing to “cash out” so they could “coast out” for the balance of their life in relative tranquility.
This notion of “cashing out” has permeated my thinking in a number of other ways highlighted as follows:
- Cashing out of relationships with persons for whom I have nothing in common. I would be pleasant and civil to them but otherwise spend no more of my social capital or energy
- Cash out of endeavors and initiatives for which I no longer have anything in common. This includes everything from cutting the lawn to attending events to working on what I now consider to be pointless.
- Cashing out of a country that I no longer recognize. Thankfully, I’m not yet at that point but my concern is growing.
If fellow baby boomers (and anybody for that matter who is living just day to day under an unrelenting cloud of anxiety) are feeling and thinking the same way, I would be most interested in your feedback.