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The road less taken is now my own



I’ve learned to wait quietly without frustration. Well, about 50% of the time. I can’t say for certain when I first realized I reached this mature stage in life. I most certainly earned it the hard way, as it was not a skill acquired without the accompanying agony.

My list of lessons is rife with obstacles. Having an appointment only means that I am expected to be there for them, not the other way around. Changing lanes to get ahead of someone only invokes the age old law that the other line moves quicker. Try it at the grocery store for a mini-lesson and the lane you jumped to will need the Managers approval within seconds.

Need a quick anything?  Other than Chick-fil-A, you are pretty much out of luck and might as well hunker down and be patient. Cresting an overpass, you see nothing but red taillights and decide to zip down the feeder instead. It’s risky and you are a pro, but soon get caught up behind a fender bender that brings you to a 40 minute halt.

Our fast-paced life takes 2 weeks to grind down to a peaceful state and by that time, the “relaxing” trip to Pago Pago is over and we are still tense. We arrive back in Baytown and with no apparent transition go immediately back to 90 to nothing. There is only one solution besides moving permanently to Luckenbach – learn to slow down or burn up on reentry. You can’t change anything except your perception of your surroundings. The sooner you accept this hard cold fact, the quicker you can sit back and take one for the team.

Almost to the day, I retired 2 years ago and it’s taken me 2 years to slow down. Now some might laugh when I write or claim to have slowed down, but I am not talking about activities, but my perception of life around me. “Slow down bro; you are retired,” has become my mantra. I can “hang out” at the auto parts store and chat with the counter person now instead of ricocheting in one door and out the other like I’ve done since I was 15.

It’s raining and the yard needs mowing? No biggie, I’ll do it tomorrow or the next day. That problem will repeat itself countless times and it is nothing to get agitated over. Yes, I realize it isn’t one issue that gets us tied in knots; it’s the stack of 15 problems that set us off like a firecracker. Our normal routines as working people have a queue of problems waiting to ambush us every single day and where does this frustration come to the surface? When we are forced to wait on almost anything.

I have to confess I am not always successful. As an example, this week I was needing to buy an item at one of the home improvement stores.  I searched like a Yorkie going for a rat for all of maybe 10 minutes and the staff was having a large motivational gathering. I couldn’t get help because they were busy getting pumped up so they could help customers. I went to the professional lumber area and stood quietly at the counter and watched 4 clerks stare at a 5th one as they tried to thread a spool of paper on one of the registers.

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t last much more than 60 seconds before I walked off shaking my head. I was within 5 feet of them and they never took their eyes off the paper spool-challenged coworker.  As I walked away, I took a few deep breaths and made my way to the part of the store that ultimately held the tool I needed. When I checked out, the lady asked, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” I chuckled and went out the door as happy as I would have been if someone had put the item in my hand. I deserve an award for patience.

A good deal of my acquired new maturity is due to the time I spend at the gym named after a clock. I can burn frustration with calories and by the time I leave, I simply have little fight left in me – and that carries over to the rest of the day. Sure, taking a drug or something else would be easier, but that is a path I want to avoid. Besides, I get a good blast of endorphins as a reward and I like that opiatic hormone.
Running all over like a fried chicken with its head cut off will not save any of us any credible amount of time and only make us more agitated. Some of us simply need a break to gather our wits, but that my friend is for another column.

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Comments

Steve Mcdaniel said…
going to the gym almost daily helped me better than any therapy session when I was going through a divorce, it took the aggression away and cleared my mind besides allowing me to rest at night. I can't wait until I can retire in a few years and join the slowerfolks!
Anonymous said…
enjoyed this Bert. Lots of good advice...Debi

Anonymous said…
Bert,

You truly have a gift. Always enjoy your columns
Anonymous said…
Good blip today in the Sun, BB. i can identify with that.

Years ago I was in my 50's and car pooled with a woman. After a few months of it, she mentioned some project or other that she was doing that week end. (of course, I was ALWAYS on one or another project that just had to be wrapped up)

Anyway, I asked her on Monday about how the project came out. Her answer was foreign to me as could be.

She said she wasn't finished yet and that she could just finish it whenever.

She said tomorrow or next week, whenever .

WHAT? TOMORROW?
Anonymous said…
DDC: Bert, I meant to post this yesterday, but had to leave for work. Your column in The Baytown Sun was very good. You are always on point.
Anonymous said…
FU: You do good work Bert.

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