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Vicissitude of Extreme Old Age (IV)

已有 1480 次阅读 2020-3-6 20:26 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察|关键词:学者

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Vicissitude of Extreme Old Age (IV)

Happiness is an Empty To-Do List

Both my wife and I always take pride in ourselves for being organized, have a to-do list, able to multi-task, and dutifully carry out tasks on the list without fail. Even though we are both in our mid-eighties, we go about living an organized life without fail except for one difference. Lately, I began to be bothered by items on the to-do list. I am not talking about daily household chores such as take out the rubbish, household maintenance tasks, management of retirement finance, et al. When you know you have enough to live out your life, have seen and travelled most of the world, and having each other you learn to ignore other distractions such as tips on a fabulous stock that will appreciate 1000% in a year or a can’t miss new destination to visit. But there are still items to-do that you feel you need to take care but no longer a pleasure to do it. Example, you come across the title of an interesting paper on control and optimization you feel you should read. But it takes some concentration and intelligent effort to read and understand the paper. At current stage of my life, whether or not I do this really cannot make any difference. Thus, whether or not to exert this effort becomes a bother. When you sleep, you start to dream about imagined bad consequence if you do not finish this task or will do something wrong with the task. When you are awake, ignoring the task becomes a stress inducer. Doing it no longer gives you pleasure as before. Rationally, you know this is ridiculous. But you cannot help it. For me true happiness is an empty to-do list. My life nowadays seems to learn to discard items on the to-do list that are really not important or relevant to enjoy “retirement”. In this respect, I need to learn from my wife who can “compartmentalize” her thinking and not let things/events that has not happened or she cannot influence trouble her. Coincidentally, I now remember that my mother, a most capable and loving person, in the last couple years of her life often let small decisions or incidents bother her immensely. At the time, I could not understand this and attributed to the onset of dementia or confused thinking. Now I began to understand this as another inevitable vicissitude of old age and regret that I did not demonstrate more empathy. Self-improvement and learning never stop in life. You only realize what is happening when you reach the old age yourself.




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