What Have You Done For Yourself Lately?

A stitched panorama of downtown Portland, OR a...

A stitched panorama of downtown Portland, OR at night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I begin the second week of my hiatus from school between semesters, I find myself wondering how it is so many people were in restaurants during the time I was in Portland. Perhaps they did not have jobs. Then again, maybe they did not need to have them in the first place.

I could have been just imagining the great numbers of people I saw who were not just hanging out there, but seemingly eating and drinking their way to happiness; but probably not. I think they were somehow all doing ok financially, too, or were at least enjoying their individual “moments” and not too overly concerned with their eventual retirements from the working world.

Eat, sleep, drink and enjoy!

That used to be a personal motto. That is until I started working more days than not. Since I do not know when it is exactly that I will retire, I am thinking more and more about doing the things I can now, physically-speaking, that I may not be able to do later when I am “retired.”

Why is retirement still looked upon as funny or at least funny in the sense that most will be “dreaming on” regarding retiring?

We chase a buck at the expense of our health, planning to see things and enjoy places with someone special, that may never come to pass.

Everyone has heard of stories of people all set to retire, then something happens that causes them to be wiped out financially and they have to work full-time again if they ever hope to retire (again). Retirement is like a job in that the thought of getting there sounds like a lot of work a la Retirement: You have to work at it.

Those who rely on the fate of stock markets are in the majority when it comes to retirement plans. We have to set aside enough money in either our company sponsored 401ks or individual IRAs, and trust markets continue their ascent in order to not work a single day longer than we want to.

We resign ourselves to a fate of helplessness regarding our financial prosperity—the helplessness that comes from relinquishing control over the outcome. I hear the naysayers to this point loud and clear: “but Bob, we can redistribute our 401ks any way we want to!” This is true, but all who have either 401ks or IRAs are at the mercy of the markets. We have no alternative but to play the stock market in order to achieve retirement goals (unless we consider stuffing money into and under our mattresses a retirement plan).

Ultimately you are kidding yourself should you not understand the many similarities between mutual fund and casino managers; both sharing in common that they are not in existence to lose money. In fact, they make money even while you are losing yours during a bad run at the craps table or a crash such as the one that thrust us into the Great Recession.

Always remembering to pay you first, however, goes furthest towards a life happily well lead no matter how little control we may have over our financial futures.

English: Panorama of Portland, Oregon, United ...

English: Panorama of Portland, Oregon, United States in 1890. Mount Hood in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fun-loving people on vacation

It is vacation season and some of the people we ran across in Portland were undoubtedly on holiday. Why else would they appear so happy, so in the moment, smiling, having fun and an overall grand time?

I am in love, so one could argue I am seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. Be that as it may, I was unnerved at the frequent instances of graffiti seemingly everywhere we went. This was counterintuitive to my feeling everyone in Portland is chill, fun-loving and respectful. It just goes to show you even perceived paradises could have seedy underbellies.

The use of the word “fun-loving” is something I do not take lightly. In fact, some would say I have gone out on a limb by using it. I probably should have refrained, at least according to Urban Dictionary:

“The most ridiculous, pointless, and redundant adjective that has ever existed. More specifically, it’s what a lot of uncreative and ignorant incorrigibles use in their personals ad when they can’t think of something to say that actually has meaning to it. The definition of fun, is something that is a source of enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure. Therefore, the fact that something fun is enjoyable or pleasurable is built-in to the very meaning of the word. Hence, it is completely redundant and illogical to say “fun-loving”. How else is someone going to feel about fun? Fun-hating? The very notion is contradictory at best, and ludicrous at worst.

Oh my god! I’m such a fun-loving person! What an amazing revelation.

Oregon Beachfront

Oregon Beachfront
Photo by Bob Skelley

I still think Portlanders are fun-loving.

Portland is a very young, hip town. And I think having fun is consistent with youth. That is why each of us has to have fun. Yes, “fun-loving” may be redundant, but it behooves not just the young, but also all of us to be fun-loving.

Find your moment, enjoy it for as long as it lasts and at the end of each day lay your burdens down to rest for the night. Stop worrying so much about what tomorrow may bring. Tomorrow is going to come, be just what it will be and is not concerned with whether you will have enough money for retirement. And like your retirement, tomorrow has not happened yet.

Unlike a job where you feel the constant pressure of a culture entrenched in a “what have you done for me lately” mindset, the real question you should ask is, “What can I do for myself that gives me happiness at this moment?”



2 replies »

  1. Great article Bob. As usual, you hit the nail on the head, especially about retirement.

    Enjoy Portland. I’ve been there once and really liked it!


    • Thank you, Tony, always appreciate it when you leave comments. And Portland was wonderful. We really had a blast in town and also when visiting the Oregon coast–gave us a lot of food for thought as to another great place to live. Very fortunate to have been able to visit and we most definitely will be back. Glad you enjoyed it, too!


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