Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Something there is about a rainy Fall day that captures the very essence of Autumn. Already the skies are dreary enough in the morning when we rise, so the crying Heavens throughout the day sympathize nicely with the soggy landscape. We’re only missing the violent winds to rock the trees and dislodge the drying leaves. As yet we haven’t made the move to woolen goods, but the current warm temperatures are reportedly soon to drop to more seasonable numbers. It is likely but a matter of hours before the Summer blanket is ceremoniously retired for another year to the cedar box. The young fellow who looks after the grounds at the house and the office was in this morning (with another bill, naturally - he has a tiny son at home), already complaining that things are drying up on his agenda. Likely he’ll have but one last visit before yard maintenance becomes entirely redundant, and he must start to think (as do so many labourers at this time of year) about what he’ll do over the Winter and whether Employment Insurance will figure in his plans.

While I struggle to recall where I stuffed the snow shovels and rock salt last Spring, my more clever friends and acquaintances are planning trips to the South for the Winter. I mustn’t allow myself to dwell upon their good fortune, it only exacerbates my condition! To make matters worse, over breakfast this morning, I browsed through some "Class Notes" in a magazine from the undergraduate University I attended over forty years ago. I was utterly deflated to read that someone who had graduated the same year as I was already retired! Afterwards, upstairs and preparing myself for work, I strained to bend over far enough to pull on my socks, practically suffocating myself with the effort, wondering - again - how ever am I to continue to do this day after day for who knows how long!

Yesterday an Accountant called me to enquire about the affairs of one of my long-standing Clients. As though to rub salt in the wound, he advised that my Client was contemplating corporate reorganization in the face of impending retirement. Fortunately for me, I hadn’t any time to consider the ramifications of the comment nor to plunge myself into further despondency as a consequence, as I was then by force engaged in about three hours’ work to unravel the last decade of complicated real estate transactions and to determine, as the Accountant asked to know, what it was in fact that my Client owned (as though I had the information at my finger tips). Indeed it was only this morning, after several more hours of grinding work, that I succeeded in rounding out my investigations, including cajoling the Deputy Land Registrar to consolidate properties which to my way of thinking should have been consolidated ten years ago when I first handled that particular transaction. It isn’t often that I am so persuasive with government bureaucracy.

As a small-town sole proprietor, it no doubt assuages my self-deprecation for years of spendthrift habits to recall that several of my mentors in Town worked well into their seventies and even beyond. Perhaps I am just making excuses, but I am hard pressed to know what else I might do if I weren’t sitting here - like a worn-out salesman in a furniture shop - waiting for the next customer to come through the door. This period of my life is unquestionably the Autumn of my Years, a fact made all the more obvious by my unrelenting decision to control the cadence of my practice by seriously screening the nature of work I accept. I get a positive thrill when I hear myself say to others that "I cater to my existing Clients only", a fact which is true not entirely by design but rather mostly by the accident of having been here for the past thirty-three years. In simple terms, by virtue of my longevity, I enjoy a wide Client base, and it is nothing to see the reappearance of former Clients every ten years, a revolutionary process which through some magical turn appears to pick up speed with the passage of time. It would accordingly be unforgivable for me to abandon my Clients in their hour of need!

If I am to be perfectly candid, I must admit that a large part of my continuing anxiety about working and retirement is nothing more than the product of my hopeless impatience. When you think about it, Why in the world would anybody be in a rush to end what is a relatively good thing? I accept that many people who worked for the government or as teachers couldn’t wait to get out, simply because they absolutely hated what they did. I find it hard to relate to that type of animosity, never having been quite in the same position, but I am guessing that the cloud upon one’s being is greater than the indignity of having to dress for work every morning. If I can just learn to temper my permanent state of agitation and restlessness, I suspect things will go along a great deal more smoothly. The reality is that growth and development in any activity is never as rapid as one might prefer. It’s rather like watching grass grow - you can never see it, but it eventually happens. Just like the Seasons, imperceptible, but they change.

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