“Now is the winter of [my] discontent, made glorious summer by this sun [that is New] York.”
- with deepest apologies to William Shakespeare, for bastardizing his opening line from, Richard III; (not to mention John Steinbeck),
however, the relevance of the re-wording should become apparent below.
It has been over eight months since my last blog post. There is a reason for this.
I have spent the time adjusting to a very difficult new phase of my life – reconciling the realizations, failures and disappointments of the past two years into a positive path forward that will allow me to rebuild momentum in a clear direction and, perhaps above all else, continue to lead the life of a self-professed flâneur who does his best to bless others through his interactions with them.
Being a sexagenarian has been a most interesting experience. In working my way up to it, I often heard the term, “golden years,” applied to this period of life, and wondered how that “gold” would manifest itself in my own.
I’m a little less than halfway through this ‘golden’ decade now, and to be brutally honest – I expected something much better. It fact, it’s probably been the most unhappy, unsatisfying period of my entire life. At least so far.
As a consultant, I work for a large worldwide firm, and I’m making more money now than at any other time in my career. And I hate every single minute of it. I feel like a whore who pimps himself out for an hourly billable rate, and I see nothing substantive, constructive, or certainly fulfilling, coming out of my billable activity and, more importantly, my remaining time in this life.
But yet I continue to do it. Why? Two reasons primarily: 1) the money – and the unwillingness (at least until now) to live on less; and 2) the knowledge that my professional working career for all intents will be over forever once I quit because of my age.
I think that pride has a lot to do with it too. I've had the privilege of being able to hold so many responsible positions during the course of my career, that I guess I'm having a hard time reconciling myself to the fact that this is not the way I thought it was all going to end.
But we also have no business defining our value as humans through something as superficial (especially in today's crass and narcissistic work environment and culture) as job stature - do we? It's important not to fall into the same trap as perhaps Ethan Allen Hawley from the Steinbeck novel, isn't it?
I also lost a very cherished friend through circumstance, who had provided me with critical emotional support and camaraderie through this period.
That loss created a profound emptiness and sadness for me, and I think that’s the point at more than any other time where I really lost my sense of direction, and truly settled into a mindless, depressive routine that’s quite similar to that of a prison work release program: get up; go to work; return home; grab something light to eat; go to bed; get up…. Don’t think about anything else. Just do what you have to do, and get it over with – until the next day. Until you die. Or quit.
Such a routine transforms one’s life from truly living in every moment – to just putting in time. And I’ve been horrified to learn that time fast forwards exponentially when you do that. It is precious time wasted, that can never be regained. I cannot believe it’s been over 8 months since my last blog post here.
That, shall never happen again. And the power to ensure that rests solely with me. It’s just a matter of making the necessary adjustments to one’s life expectations in order to pursue the true calling. Most of us get wrapped up in this 'game of life’ - that ubiquitous treadmill that ensnares us, fills us with unnecessary desires that make others wealthy, siphons off our time, and sucks us dry through virtually our entire lives. It takes courage to flip the table over, get up, and walk away. That’s what I’ve decided I have to do.
However, such an offline sojourn as this recent one was useful at least in this instance, to help me understand the consequences and imprudence of veering away from the very premise of my blog and website in the first place. That confirmation was definitely needed by me in 2018.
And my absence also reaffirmed the pitfalls of social media that I spoke about in laying out the foundations for this blog and website. Don’t live in your smartphone. Live in reality. Go to a bar. Order a drink. Start talking to the person next to you. Turn the phone off. Do something - or at the very least enrich someone's life, even just a little bit, through your interaction with them.
You know, I read so many platitudes that people post on their social media pages. So much of it is all the same basic 'let-me-convince-myself-I'm-really-happy-because-I-say-or-think-this' kind of stuff. Everybody seems to be searching for an answer. It’s as though we’re all unhappy. We’re all depressed. We’re all looking for things to get better. Well, what if things aren’t going to get any better? What if, as Jack Nicholson posed the question in the 1997 film, this is truly “as good as it gets?”
Trust me. You won't find happiness or fulfillment in your smartphone. All you will do is waste precious time. Follow the desires of your heart instead.
Anyway, I did make some good friends over the past 18 months. Ironically, they’re virtually all bartenders. I guess that’s all you need to know about the current state of my mind. So the summer in New York was not without its rewards – including the discovery of some outstanding venues for food, libations, entertainment, and most importantly, social interaction, which will all be reviewed on these pages in upcoming months.
If I’m lucky to live as long as my father, I have about 10 years in this life left. That time will fly by in a blink of an eye. How do I really want to spend it? Certainly, not like the last two years, especially. I think I now know.
The American Flâneur has, in a manner of speaking, returned.
So with the end of summer, comes the autumn and then the winter. And with it, hopefully the ultimate end of the discontent, depression, and what the French call ennui, so that by next spring, the disappointments and sadness will be far behind me, as I move forward down that final stretch, with a renewed sense of purpose and energy.
© 2018 David Nogar All Rights Reserved
David Nogar worked in railroad operations for almost 50 years until retiring from the transportation business in early 2023.