16 November 2019

Complacency

"Complacency is a continuous struggle that we all have to fight" - Jack Nicklaus

The years keep trundling by. Each day is like one silent tick from an invisible clock. Onward we go.

Have you been lucky?  I know that I have been lucky. For a man in his mid-sixties I am in good health. I have no disabilties or significant health issues. I don't do drugs and I am not an alcoholic. Though I may not run any more, I can walk for miles. My faculties have not failed me.

There's a good woman by my side and we have two grown-up children to be proud of - good people just like us. Some men of my age can only dream of such treasures. In their lives, that particular boat may have sailed away long ago.

Though I have retired from paid work, I have two pensions and monthly income from a house we rent out. We are not rich, not by a long way, but we are comfortable. We rarely worry about bills or money. If we want a fly-drive holiday over in Montana and Wyoming we can do it or a new car or a replacement television. No problem.
And yet, and yet I can hear the music of complacency in the background. What if? What if?

Death or disability could come early. Hearts fail and there are strokes or brain tumours. Diabetes or cancer. These things happen to people. People just like me. Possibly just round the corner. How would life be then?

In contrast, I could become old and frail. Me and 85. The two don't seem right together but it could happen. How would I cope? I might need personal care or residential care. How would I fund it? How would I cope?

I admit that I am guilty. Guilty of  complacency. Perhaps deep down I imagine that this relatively untroubled, reasonably happy existence will just keep trundling along. Good health and money in the bank forevermore. But as others have discovered - often from painful experience, the apple cart can so easily be overturned. And if that day should arrive, I will doubtless look back rather enviously upon the days I am living in right now.

43 comments:

  1. Enjoy each day to the fullest. Sooner or later, one foot steps on the banana peel and you start the slide. Your rambles are things of beauty, and I'm happy you still have them.

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    1. Thank you Allison. There will come a time when the walks cease. I need to enjoy every mile.

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  2. Like so many things in life, I think we need a balance of complacency and awareness to enjoy life to the fullest. I was always complacent until my father's stroke. I saw how life changed in an instant for him, and he had eight long years of disability and illness until death released him. I worry too much now. Every time I have a medical issue I tend to see it as the beginning of the slippery slope that leads to a nursing home and incapacitation. I try to do what Allison prescribed, above, because it's the only way to make the most of every day instead of ruining them all.

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  3. I should have added (to tie in with my opening sentence) that we need to have awareness in order to be grateful, but we need to be a little complacent in order to experience unfettered joy, as well.

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    1. That's a wise note of caution Jenny. Getting the balance right is the best way to live.

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  4. Appreciate what you have...and those you have in your life, your loved ones.

    You are rich in both. Unfortunately, I am unable to say similar.

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    1. If I were in Tamborine Mountain right now I would give you a bear hug...but you would probably push me away with "Ged off ye pommy mongrel!"

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  5. You make some great points. Yes things are just great right now. However in a second or two life can turn on a dime and things are not so good.So live her up now!

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    1. If we get snow this winter, I will follow your example and send Mrs Pudding outside with a snow shovel. That's the way to live her up.

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  6. Being aware of your comfortable situation and gratitude for the opportunities it gives you are your defence against complacency.
    Good health and loving relationships usually require some sacrifice. The things we do or don't do, say or don't say, food we eat or don't eat and exercise we do or don't take - all of these have an impact on where we finish up.
    We all struggle with the concept of our own death, when and how will it happen? As I hope my own will be sudden and painless (for me and my nearest and dearest), I try and enjoy each day I am gifted (whatever the weather),keep on good terms with my children and nurture my friends so there will be no regrets over things not said like " I love you".
    The Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 made us all too aware of how suddenly life can change and how little control we have over the earth we live on. A house can be rebuilt but a life lost is lost forever. Many people have since chosen simpler lives, valuing relationships and experiences above material things. We needed our neighbours for help and support.
    After 46 years at work I have a small state pension each fortnight, savings and a younger husband still working. We still live on a budget. We can cover our bills and still save for his eventual retirement. I have a large home library, a stash of knitting wool, recipes as yet untried and a garden to work in and enjoy. I am never bored. We have survived good and bad times in our 40 years together - several recessions and redundancies, worked multiple jobs, economised and made things last,and raised two girls to be good, kind, hardworking people. I mostly shop in Charity shops - giving and receiving - and support overseas schools in the Pacific Islands. Education is the gift that keeps on giving.
    I can no longer streak down the basketball and netball courts and my tennis days are over but there is still the joy of the Council swimming pool for exercise after a day in the garden or a walk. I carry a book on any journey so I never mind waiting and I'm always learning. I'm no longer keeping anything for best, there is no dress rehearsal, today is all we have. We use the 2nd hand crystal and china everyday as the food and drink taste better.

    Most of all I don't WORRY! I leave that to my husband. I am half full, he is half empty.
    Your posts always make me think and laugh. Keep up those walks, enjoy the fruit of your labours and your loins, live kindly and keep on sharing your life with the world. We've all worked hard for the freedom retirement brings. Let's enjoy it! Arohanui Adele

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    1. I hope you won't mind me sharing this particularly thoughtful comment in my next blogpost Adele.

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  7. All you have said is exactly the reason we should live for today. Enjoy the moment and appreciate the blessings that we have in our lives. I don't always do that because I tend to be a worrier and that is bad. I sometimes look to the past and I miss some parts of it (or people) that are gone forever. I know the day will come that I will remember today fondly because life does change and we do grow older - if we are lucky. I have a hard time living for today but I am trying to keep reminding myself to do just that. I think I understand your words a little more than I would like to but then I suppose that is life.

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    1. If this post has stimulated you to try to relish your current life with more zest then I am extra pleased I wrote it Bonnie. Are you a member of an Art class? Do you work at a thrift store?

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    2. No to both of your questions but I do love creative work and I enjoy making quilts and similar fabric items.

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  8. Complacency could just be another word for contentment. If so, then you are truly living in the Now. And that's the best place to be. (Maybe with some contingency plans that can swing into operation for your most probable futures). Me, well I'm looking out for a piece of land so I can be off-grid and more self-sufficient.

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    1. That's a great dream Kate. I hope that it comes true. You could always return to Blogland where we had so much fun. Do you remember?

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  9. Like you, I am one of the lucky ones, and like you, I am fully aware of how quickly it all can change. In the meantime, I am truly grateful for what I have and am determined to make my good life last as long as possible, which means looking after my health and keeping on keeping on. The day I am not able to walk anymore will be the beginning of the end for me.

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    1. When I had my knee pain I had a taste of what it might be like to miss out on country walks. They are like a healing medicine to me...and to you too I believe.

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  10. I have seen friends and members of my family fall foul of nature's lottery so have vowed to live life in the now. We go on trips to see parts of the world that interest us. We eat well. I drink probably too much wine. Most of all we enjoy ourselves, whilst keeping a little back just in case we do live into a doddering old age. Life is too short to be miserable if you have the means to do something about it. I am, however, fully aware that this luxury is not within the grasp of a lot of the world's population and I feel particularly lucky to have been so fortunate in my life.

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    1. It is good that you are conscious of your good fortune and of the ever reducing time. I wonder where the next trip will be to? The Calf of Man?

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  11. Also guilty. Almost stopped going to a ukulele group because they kept wanting to sing "Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think".

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    1. Any chance of a video clip appearing on your blog with you grinning and strumming along on your ukulele? The Duchess of Dunham could film it between gin and tonics.

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  12. What a thought provoking post YP. We were both working two allotments and still riding our bikes when we were in our 60's. Mick Mulligans Shovel they called me, I could dig for Britain, lol
    Now we are both unable to walk any real distance, Tom with his breathing and me with my joint pain but that doesn't mean that we are miserable. We laugh at the same silly things and still enjoy life but who would have thought that we would end up like this.
    Mu philosophy now is, 'Get up and enjoy the day and worry about nothing'
    I have learnt over the many years of problems, health and other, that everything passes.
    I always say to my kids, look back at times when you have worried and see that you need not have done as it all resolved itself.
    Remember 'A man's life is what his thoughts make of it'
    Briony
    x

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    1. Thank you for your positive reflections Briony. You, of course, are farther along the road, so to me your views are especially interesting. Thank you for the Marcus Aurelius quote - it's like "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder".

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  13. I think, when things are going well, we all get complacent, but it is good to be aware of this and have contingencies planned for when Fate gives us a kick up the backside. My complacency was shattered ten years ago, but I take comfort in the fact that I survived and not only that I rose above it. Appreciate the goods things you have, live life to the full and take one day at a time.

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    1. I know that you are speaking from painful past experience so your words have extra validity ADDY. Thank you.

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  14. Live with an attitude of gratitude. It's a long road to the end of life, and no one knows when they will reach the end of it. I never imagined that I would get to 70, but here I am, and still in fine fettle. I do sometimes think what if, but push it to the back of my mind. I'm not ready yet, got a whole lot more living to do.

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    1. I like that chiming rhyme in "attitude of gratitude" and I will remember it MQ. Belated seventieth birthday greetings to you and thanks for calling by once again.

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  15. Oddly this morning before I went for my walk in the woods I was penning a post which has been in my mind since your post Now on 30 September. This post has given me lots more food for thought none of which is condensable into a short blog post.

    Having managed at the age of 16 (thanks to the then decade or so old NHS) to get through a usually-fatal (even today) lung disease I don't think I ever took my life for granted. However, having lived with cancer since a diagnosis and major operation (in those days) in 1998 and a heart attack and 5 stents in 2000 it has almost had the opposite affect. I think. The truth is that I don't think about mortality every day. I just assume that whatever gets thrown at me I will come out the other side. Of course that is nonsense so I suppose I am complacent.

    I think that this post and the comments on it (and I look forward to your 'Peng' post) have been some of the most interesting and enlightening I've read for a while.

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    1. I don't think you even commented on that "Now" post Graham and yet its core point has remained with you like a seed. You have been through a lot of challenges Graham and yet you still soldier on - emitting a sense of positivity and contentment through your blog and your well-considered comments.

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    2. Your "Now" post set me off on far too many trains of thought to single out a single one for comment. I think I may have read it a day or so after you had published it and as you once implied that you 'abandoned' a post once the next one had been written I rarely comment directly on a late-read post. However I thought it was significant and will respond with my own post.

      I'm glad that my posts come over as positive because, whether I'm complacent or not, life has been good to me and one thing I learned at 16 was that, whilst positivity cannot alone keep you alive ,negativity can certainly help speed your demise.

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  16. This is a beautiful post. And it has a lot of wisdom in it. I think about these things ALL THE TIME. No, it's not healthy but when one has anxiety, that's the way it is. I doubt I've had a stretch of more than an hour in my life when I wasn't worrying what was to come. I may look complacent and accepting on the outside but I never am. At the same time, I am never not aware of the blessings in my life. A strange conundrum. I think my biggest take-away from this post is this: "And if that day should arrive, I will doubtless look back rather enviously upon the days I am living in right now." I think this is quite true.

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    1. When I read this comment, "You've Got Your Troubles" by The Fortunes came into my head. I don't know why.

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  17. Enjoy the good times because bad things always happen. None of us get out of this life without suffering of some kind. You don't sound complacent but rather contented. Contentment is a lovely thing. You've worked hard I'm sure for all that you have, you didn't expect it to fall into your lap.

    Death and disease will come to us all, I'm so upbeat, I know:) Enjoy your walks and your wife and your children and be thankful every day for you are blessed. And I genuinely mean that.

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    1. Nurses tend to have a clearer view of human fallibility because of their daily work and your comment demonstrates this.

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  18. To my mind this is one of your best posts ever. All of us have ups and downs, good times and not so good times. I am grateful for today and look forward to tomorrow. One of my sons and his wife are in Israel as I write this, and one of my grandsons is preparing to leave for a two-year stay in northern Uganda to work among refugees from Congo and South Sudan. My life has not turned out as I once envisioned it, but I am extremely happy where it has taken me. In a short 16 months I will be 80, and Mrs. RWP passed that milestone already. We know we don't have decades left, and we also know we could die in our sleep tonight. With age comes a little bit of perspective and, hopefully, a little bit of wisdom as well. Seize the day -- it's all one has, really. No one is guaranteed another breath.

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    1. Wise reflections Bob. Thank you for this contribution.

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  19. I think it makes sense for all of us to plan for the future as much as is practical, but at the same time, you have to live your life now and enjoy it. Is it complacency? Or is it simply not being unduly worried about a future you can't control?

    I save for retirement with every paycheck, but I'm not stressing about it too much. Perhaps I should be, but I think there's as much danger in that as in ignoring the inevitable. It's a balancing act.

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    1. You are right Steve. We cannot control the future and maybe that is how I rarely agonise about my complacency - though it's there all the same.

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  20. You are so right YP. I try not to be complacent and do appreciate how good things are for me.... and they are very good ( not perfect, that would be silly !) I know from observation how quickly that can change. Fingers crossed it doesn't, but if it does I'll be able to look back with gratitude for all that went before. Cheers

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    1. No wonder that you and Tony have had so many wonderful holidays since you retired!

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  21. I live in a city/state where I have no relatives close by. It's a 5-6 hour journey home where my sisters (3 of them) and my children and grand children live. I was reminded (although I didn't need to be because the thoughts have already been whirling around) that I'm not getting any younger and they worry that something will happen to me and I will have no one around. Nice huh? So, although I love where I live I am starting to get ideas on what needs to happen to move back home and to do it without incurring debt, as I have none now. I am just a couple of years younger than you, also in relatively good health and those thoughts of health sliding have been niggling the back of the brain for a year or so now.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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