Sunday, January 25, 2009

Doing nuthin'

My father recently sent me this cartoon. Hilarious.

My father is old school, you have to be "doing something". It is a moral and chemical imperative for him. He cannot stand still, it's killing my mother. I inherited the obsessive gene from him, and thankfully a bit of the lazy gene from my mother. I actually work at doing nothing these days.

What I mean by "nothing" is actually a more active mental life than I had by the end of my previous life. Don't get me wrong JBoss was an extremely gratifying experience, intellectually and otherwise -- not everyone gets the chance to rock an industry everyday-- but today I get time to study what I want, be it economics, automation or my old mathematics and graduate physics. I am learning again... making connections again. I always liked that. Intellectual pleasure for me can be very real.

One of the hardest things, post JBoss, has been to let go of this "fascism of doing". Getting up and feeling like you have to go somewhere, do something, that there is some threat that I got to address. I honestly think that it is chemically driven, both internal (DNA) and external (coffee). I realized 18 month into my retirement that I could not quiet my nervousness. I had what the french call "inquietude", which translates to "not being quiet". I work at it. I need to remind myself.

My father sent me the cartoon with a little note saying "fits you like a glove". But truly, I am glad and thankful I can enjoy the intellectual freedom that comes with early retirement. Like the character, I am never finished "doing nuthin", it is actually a lot of work.

1 comment:

Romain said...

I remember a Seinfeld quote in the same vein :

"Let me tell you, doing nothing is not as easy as it looks. You have to be careful. Because the idea of doing anything – which could easily lead to doing something – that would cut into your nothing – and that would force me to have to drop everything!"

I think it was on Letterman years ago.