Planning for Future Decades

Of course, I could be dead tomorrow.  Hopefully this won’t happen.  I’m so hopeful, in fact, that I think about the future as though I’ll be around for 2-3 decades.  Imagine being around for another 20-30 years.  Wow.  What on earth will I do with that time, if I’m lucky enough that it materializes?  What would you do with that time if it were there for you?

Well, I currently have my Tapas Life, which you’ve read about in this blog.  It’s quite full with Family, Start-up, Exercise/Sports, Friends, Board, Piano, LifeCoaching, Volunteering, Home, Cooking, Finances, Wine, Travel, Learning, writing about the Tapas Life, and more.  And I periodically wonder whether it will be up to the challenge of keeping myself vital until near the end.  This is a combination of wishing to not be a burden to kids and of wishing to live an engaging life.

I find it fathomable that some of these Tapas will run out of gas over time, gradually diminishing.  I don’t imagine that my work at a start-up will continue more than another few years:  either it’ll be a success or it won’t, and that’ll be that.  I imagine that the amount of far-flung travel my wife and I have been enjoying will be more difficult to carry off over time:  will we still want to take 17-hour flights with 12-hour time changes, and then walk 10-12 miles/day at our destination — even when we’re in our 80s?  Probably not.  I’d like to think we’ll still be going to Paris for a few weeks or months now and then, but we might not find ourselves walking from the Luxembourg Gardens to the Bois de Boulogne and back like we do today.  Likewise, Board work and Volunteering (unless it takes some new form) are likely to decrease for me over the coming decade, as my interest in same is waning.

The rest of my Tapas Life, I hope will remain intact, especially the “anchor tenants” of Family, Friends, Exercise, and Learning.  And, for better of for worse, I’ll still be working on Finances every month, willy nilly.  Lest I starve or die of thirst, best to hang on to Cooking and Wine, as well!

I’ve been pondering what main activities might have the “legs” to last decades, along with the anchors.  In a sense, this is trying to foresee what my life might look like, or more to the point, what I want my life to look like over the next 2-3 decades.  Three main activities resonate for me.

First, piano.  I’ve gotten to the point where I can play the piano well enough that it is really a rewarding activity.  This is especially the case because I’m now able to play pretty difficult stuff — and this is music I love.  OK, I’m certainly not professional nor within a country mile.  But I’m good enough that now my drive to learn more is accelerating.  I’ve lately started to entertain the idea that I will seek out a way to earn a music/piano degree over the coming decade, maybe getting started in a couple years as some other Tapas dwindle.  I sure as hell don’t want to go back into Psych101 or Freshman English, so I’m hoping I can work something out (Stanford would be ideal, or perhaps the Conservatory in San Francisco) where I can just take all the music and piano courses:  Theory, Composition, Appreciation and the like.  Truthfully, I haven’t yet investigated what such a path would entail, but I know I want to get in deeper. I want to better understand what my favorite composers were doing within a given piece, so I can find the hidden fullness of the music and bring that out at the keyboard.

Second, LifeCoaching.  This meaningful Tapa of mine is one which benefits from experience.  It seems very likely that I can be doing this for at least another couple decades, assuming the universe continues to bring me clients as it so helpfully has.  Moreover, it is an activity that can be titrated in line with need:  one can have more or less clients as suits the circumstances of the moment.

Third, maybe French.  This is really Learning and Travel wrapped together.  My wife and I love Paris and hope to enjoy chunks of time there for many years.  So I’m contemplating getting serious about becoming reasonably fluent in French.  I can read it decently now, and speak enough to handle the quotidian basics, but can’t understand the spoken language much at all, and am a long way from speaking it well.  This, too, is an activity that can continue to be engaging and can continue yielding pleasure for decades.  My wife studied French for many years, and is surreptitiously fluent;  so my pursuing French fluency is something that we can work on together, which is fun.

Don’t know if these things will come to pass, but they inhabit my musings these days.

What’s your thinking about the decades that you’re rolling into???  If you lay it out, you can live it.  If you don’t, you can just experience life as it comes at you.

 

Doubts

The Tapas Life I’m living is really quite excellent.  It has all the aspects I have come to view as necessary in my desired Tapas Life (in no particular order):  meaning, fun, health (exercise/diet), beauty, learning, family, community, comfort, flexibility, variety, and reasonable finances.  This tasty melange has been assembled with the thought in mind that each aspect of it has “legs,” i.e., it can continue on for 20-30 years.

But I admit I have my doubts from time to time.  I really love the piano, but have found out that I have a progressive malady called Dupuytren’s Contracture that is gradually trying to cause the tendons/muscles of my 2-3 central fingers to shrink up.  I’m fighting this with aggressive stretching.  Will I win, or will it?  Time will tell — but this could put piano in jeopardy for me.  I’m told a surgical procedure exists if my hands get bad enough.  Will this restore them?  Who knows?

I expect to arrive at the point of 10,000 hours of intensive practice at the piano around 3-4 years from now.  This is the point at which one is supposedly going to be pretty decent.  From my standpoint, I already am — at least compared to what I imagined possible.  And I’ll surely be better a few years from now.  Practice, practice, practice.  It will be tragic if the piano slips from my reach.

I talk through this as an example of the doubts I have about the longevity of my Tapas.  Will my hand health last 20-30 years?  We’ll see.

Will the economy and investments tank for a prolonged period, curbing our financial well-being?  Nobody can say.

Will my knees hold out so I can keep biking to get the cardio I need as part of my Younger Next Year exercise program?  Will something else give out, health-wise, that will limit our travels (this could be an issue of mine or an issue of my wife’s)?  How long will golf be doable?  One can’t know.

I really like my Life Coaching work.  Where will I find clients going forward?  For the past couple of years, they’ve just materialized, delivered to me by the universe, so to speak.  And this in a way that has me with a steady stream of 2-4 clients (my max is 5, so it doesn’t become a whole career).  I like this, but have no idea if it will continue.  Or if it will get harder as I get older.  Simply don’t know.

Will my plentiful supply of Exotic Fish (see eponymous post) keep swimming my way, or will my aquarium thin out and become sparse, leaving me with less of these nourishing relationships?

What will happen to the balance of my Tapas Life as and when one or both of our kids get married (if that comes to pass)?  And if there are grandchildren?  What if my wife or I don’t get along with their spouse?  Where will kids be living?  How will these events affect the years to come, and the flow of my Tapas Life?

Eventually, even my high-powered wife may choose to slow down.  How will that affect our lives, and what will be the interplay with my Tapas Life?

Plenty to wonder about.  I know I often come off as pretty cheerful and sans souci.  I just wanted you to know that I have my doubts about whether this carefully assembled Tapas Life of mine has legs.  And I have the doubts a few times a month, more than just occasionally.  And you may, too.  It seems only natural.

I generally confront those doubts by telling myself that whatever comes along, my Tapas Life will be malleable enough to morph with the vicissitudes the stream of time brings my way.  And that settles me down to enjoy life as I currently know it, rather than worrying about the unknowables.

In a significant way, the Tapas Life is the most flexible one:  if a Tapa conks out, others are still there to sustain you.  And a fresh Tapa can be created to fill the space.  Tapas that lose their mojo can be sent to pasture.  New Tapas that catch your interest are yours for the taking.

So if you or I have our doubts, I guess that’s no surprise.  And it’s comforting to know that the Tapas Life is resilient enough to take an occasional contratemp in stride.

Onward!