Today Is The First Day

Wednesday 1 January 2020

So what is it the first day of, besides 2020? Well, it is the first day of the rest of our lives just like every day is. What is the first day of my life? It’s an acknowledgement that it is up to me how my life unfolds or plays out. The First Day of The Rest of My Life is also a long past due ambition to make a difference for myself. The question can be distilled down to, “What do you want?” Today is your day. Whatever it is you want, go and get it. There is nothing stopping you except, … everything! That’s right. Good decision making does not exist in the changing winds whatever is currently popular.

Be careful where you hang out. That is a principle of life. The best place I have ever hung out is Université Concordia. The place is full of people whose main importance in life is being the best student they can be. Being the best learner. It has been a very eye-opening experience for me. These fantastic people are there to succeed. They are fine examples for me. If you have to consider education for yourself or somebody else, think of Montréal. For English university students the choice is limited to McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s. So Montréal more than likely. Bishop’s is a small university. A big part of the appeal for me to come and work and study here was for Montréal itself. I have loved this city since 1964. But I was always a transient, a temporary resident. Finally after fifty-four years I moved here. I am a Québec resident. I even pay Québec taxes. I moved her on purpose. I plan to live my life here. There is more than I need or want for my life here.

Early this year I went to a talk by Chief Justice of The Québec Court of Appeal, Hon. Neil Kerserer. His two hour talk seemed lie only twenty minutes. But I sat in a very, accomplished successful audience. Judge Morton Minck who was (convening?), the event said the room was full of the top fifteen per cent of Québec Family Law practitioner’s. And me … in my jeans and tie-dye t-shirt looking like I may have gotten lost from the kitchen.

This is what happened. During a short break in the talk the lady lawyer sitting one seat away from me inquired as to who I was. She was asking if I was a lawyer. I explained my lack of accomplishment, that I had never even graduated high school. We only spoke for two minutes. Her advise to me; twice, was to become a lawyer. She was serious, sincere. She was very focussed when she told me that. She also lowered her eyes and her voice. I would not ever recognize her but this person made a large impression on me as to what really is available for a mature person like me who is going to get a degree. There are two types of law degrees in Québec. One of them is affordable. The other one is more expensive but renumeration for teaching and TA’ing can be significant also. Agreeing that I accepted the counsellor’s good advice, I still need to proceed as I am. The one thing I can ascertain is if I could speed the process up a little. But everything hinges on clearing this debt that is slowing me down. That’s why we should avoid debt; it slows us down. I mean those of us without resources. She was, is right. Because I am retired with a decent pension I don’t need to get an education to support myself. My education needs to allow me to become a scholar. Even if I go ahead and attain a law degree first I have to have that undergrad to qualify me or make me an eligible candidate.

Education can be a very fulfilling vocation for a person in their third life. It is for me. It is showing me a whole new reality. So that is the one side of me. The other side is the writer side. That is extremely important to me as well. Those are my two jobs. Writer and scholar. I will be back in school this coming Monday and then it will be a relentless 13 weeks of Latin 2. I can hardly wait. I really want to improve my ability this semester. I still have to decide on a second course, if that is what I want to do. I could do the one Latin 2 and then push my writing work. But if I am not going to do the writing then I should take another classics course. Or a writing course! Now I am distracting myself. I am so hungry for writing that I might just do it. Writing and publishing knowledge. Writing can be monetized. That can support my writing job. Good writers get paid. Maybe not a lot, but some do/can. With writing there at least exists the possibility to develop more than one income source. There also exists the possibility of “passive” income. Those I would have to research and learn about.

The other convenient pro about writing is that I can write whenever. I finished yesterday’s writing this morning at 0325. Here it is almost 1130 and this is my first post. I’ll finish this one and then go and work on the next one. The next one will also be about an hour or hour and a half. And it feels so good. That is what I like about it. It is becoming a habit. I wander around the kitchen in the morning asking myself, “What am I going to write about?” I don’t know in advance in my head what I will write about. But it is coming. I am starting to build things in my mind by asking that question, “What will I write about?” The cumulative aspect of the experience pays off. It would have been very uncomfortable for me to weasel out of writing today just because I went until three this morning. This is what matters. This is what makes a difference in my life.

Time to go.

Happy New Year

Tuesday 31 December 2019

Yikes! The end of another decade. I’ve always viewed my life in 10 year increments. The decade from 2010-2020 is quite interesting I have come to realize. And why or how did I come to know this? Well, because of what I did. I moved to Eastern Ontario in 2010 to finish off my career. Then I retired in December 2015. I took two sailing courses, bought a boat, lived on it for seven months. I really should write about the shit I do. I do some pretty cool shit!

So that was how it began. It ends with me having lived in Montreal for 16 months now. And I attend university as a senior auditor. I live in Milton Park. And I am having a freaking riot! I love living here. I love working as a student and a writer.

But I am behind today. I had a downtown chore to do and I am glad I got it done before noon. Then I had some chores to do here this afternoon. It is all legit! Everything that was closing, was closing by 06:00 pm or earlier. And I did get the car out of the snow that the snowplow had buried it in. There was no rush and I am practiced with the little shovel, the broom, and the snow brush for the windshield. Then I drive five blocks and then park it again. I am driving it everyday just to exercise it and keep it fluidly sound also. Plus also now it is parked in a spot that had been ploughed out by the machine. I will move it first thing tomorrow morning then it is done. The streets and sidewalks have been ploughed but that is all. There is snow everywhere. I speculate that snow clearing operations will begin on the second of January 2020. At that time it will be the full program, towing cars and trucking the snow out.

It is New Years Eve and I am having a quiet one. Which is what I had planned for. I am starting off the year in a “single” frame of mind. Things are very interesting when sex is removed form the paradigm. Here’s a challenge! Date for six months intensively and never have sex. Meet five new women per week and invite them for coffee and let them know that you are doing this very same thing with other women also. Good luck with that one. I may need to meet five a week just to have somebody to talk to. I should read that book and start that program again. Do it to write a book about the program. So there are a couple of pros right there. Get a book and a couple of dates too. It would be a fun project besides.

I don’t know if I could write a book in that context. I think I could. Just be as honest, open and straightforward as you normally are. That is the only way to be. And have some fun dates with some nice ladies. I have to do this. If I am not going to get serious and settle down with a woman, than at least have girlfriends. If there are enough candidates then I don’t have to waste time with fending off neediness and undesirables. Remember, these are not blind dates. These are not social media email-a-thons either. If you are meeting somebody in the grocery store and they agree to meet tomorrow for lunch, they are serious as well. Six months is 24 weeks. Five per week is 5 x 24=120. One hundred and twenty women every six months. Two hundred and forty a year. What an incredible aspect of life that would be. It would be a lot of work. It would be all about women. Maybe I would meet some academic women. It would be a good way to socialize. To get to know some ladies!

I had fallen asleep earlier before nine pm. I woke up just in time at eleven twenty. Just in time for New Year’s! It was pretty uneventful in this neighbourhood as expected. There were some fireworks over at du Parc & Prince Arthur. But it was all over in under a minute. And a bit of hooting’ and hollering’ too. Gotta have some fun. I’m sure there was a celebration somewhere. Probably by the river. Yes, it has been a quiet event here in my apartment. More sleep is in the offing. But I wanted to get back to this page. I had wanted to post it earlier but then there was the sleep issue.

I am really happy that I have made it to 2020. It was always a target date for me because I will also be sixty-five years old this year too. In seven months and twenty-two days. Another reason I like the date is that I got to retire before September 2020. Money is always important because of the choices it gives, but to retire earlier than planned is a gift of time that is difficult to replicate. I am one of the grateful ones. I have worked all of my life. I did work hard. There was no choice in the industry I was in. In September I will start receiving another government pension. An increase of just over seven thousand dollars. That will be my last large pay raise in life, probably. It is a powerful combination of time and money.

On the domestic side of things, I have not made any furniture purchases for the apartment. I had costed out a purchase of some Ikea products from a lady in The Village, but I just didn’t want to spend the money. I have had to spend a lot of extra money these last couple of months. The debt is coming down quickly and I am still saving a little in spite of the debt priority. This debt priority is actually debt relief. It will be gone in a number of months. That will permit more choices. More money, more choices. That is a wonderful thought to be able to debt-free once again. Indeed, to be able to put seventeen hundred dollars a month to savings would be a very comfortable lifestyle. Maybe get a new MacBook. If I need one. No need, no purchase. The place (my apartment), still needs a few more bookshelves. I also would like to get another desk for the office/living room/bedroom. I will get a kettle in the next day or two. Bookshelves I may be able to get in the spring when students graduate and they leave. A proper bed would be nice. I could have a love seat in the bedroom too. But for sure I will get a love seat or a couch for the living room. A foldout couch. No, not a fold out. Fortunately I have the luxury of time. With regards to apartment furnishings.

Now that I have re-committed to my jobs as a writer and a student I have to ensure that I put in full days. No slacking off. This has to be treated seriously, sincerely. Like a job, or two. Because that’s what it is. Two or three jobs. All I have to do is my best. That’s all.

The Right To Choose

The choosing I am referring to is the right to choose how and what I think. That may sound like an easy quest, but if it is “easy” then it is not a “quest”. With all the pressures, opinions and criticisms of absolutely everyone and everything in our lives, at times it may seem impossible to remain true to our principles.

It is all about choices. As a non-conformist, loner type of individual I assumed it would be easier to adhere to a principled path. The reality is that the pressure to conform, especially in this “social media” age, is greater than ever.

My most important choice or choices refer to my sobriety from gambling. Gratefully, I was a short term gambler, only four and a half years. Addictions are incurable. The compulsions can be controlled or arrested, but it is a life long effort. In thirty-four days I will reach my tenth “birthday” of gambling sobriety. Truly, ten years of sobriety is 3,650 days of “one day at a time”. We learn in recovery that today is the only day that we can master. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow never arrives.

Life with sobriety is good. It is wonderful. Sobriety is not a “Holy Grail”. My life still has challenges. Mostly little ones. Occasionally, life imposes terrific challenges very suddenly. That when I need that toolbar of principles to help me make the right choice. Everything is a choice.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl