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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mr FS says: Life is friction

That's one of the things he says when I mention retirement. He says we need to keep some friction in our lives. One source of friction: students! We are always helping them deal with problems little and big. You can have a great syllabus and a prepped class....but nothing ever goes exactly as planned.

He's right though. We've seen many retirees--some in our own families--dealing with boredom, the result of eliminating certain kinds of friction.

My latest bout of friction is a result of doing my taxes (on extension) over the last week. Taxes are pretty easy, unless you have 1. a tiny amount of self-employment income 2. some investment income from old investments that you would not buy again but which are too complicated to unload and 3. rental property.

Each year I--lover of numbers--discover that in the friction areas numbers are not necessarily exact. You make loads of small, potentially questionable decisions. It doesn't add up to much, but it is stressful.

I am almost done and pretty proud of myself because I have figured out how to do rental property! I read a book. Now I know what and how to depreciate!

It's not much good to tell me to get an accountant. I'd still have to get all the info together, which is the time-consuming part,  and every accountant I hear about makes terrible mistakes.

Doing my taxes is so stressful that I have spent the last week with the physical symptoms I recall from my other most stressful periods: finishing my thesis, applying for jobs, working for tenure. Really, if I had this feeling of sickness all year round, I WOULD have to retire.

I am thankful for these small bouts of stress. Thankful too that in my last years of work, the friction comes only intermittently and in discrete doses.

I took the book out of the library. I will be happy to return it.


Gam Kau said...

I agree with Mr. FS completely. I phrase it, "we all need something to push against". We are designed for a life of challenge and I feel very few of us could manage a life of ease and leisure. It's not good for our minds or our bodies.

Shelley said...

I feel for people who are truly bored because they are no longer at work. I cannot imagine not being able to keep myself occupied and entertained. I know these are not stupid people, more likely people who have given so much of their lives to their careers that they have never developed hobbies or other interests. I didn't develop mine, they just seem to have tracked me down and attached themselves to me! Have been retired for going on 7 years now; no shortage of friction thus far! Taxes are certainly on that list; I've decided to try an accountant next year - too many uncertainties now for me to keep at it alone. As you said, unusual sources of income make it all more complex.

Duchesse said...

If a person is bored, it is because he or she is boring. There is a whole world of stimulation outside work; you just need interests and the willingness to lend a hand where needed.

Leisure does not imply doing nothing, it is the gift of time to do what you wish.