In Praise of Idleness

It was the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell who wrote the above title for one of his essays. He was pushing a theory that everyone should work less. I am using it to illustrate one of the dangers of living in a retirement home – and enjoying it.

After a lifetime of working, running around to get things done, worrying about minutiae and generally being part of the rat race, I am finding an alternative. Life in the retirement home is different. I have heard this many times from friends who moved to the new lifestyle and I used to wonder how different life can be. Now I’m finding out and starting to worry that I am treading a dangerous path.

I never have to leave here, in fact if it wasn’t for odd forays to the supermarket or to the bank… and even those can be avoided. There is a mini-market here in the building. This involves an elevator trip and maybe pushing a small trolley back to the apartment. The bank comes here once a week, enough for my needs (again the elevator), and I can do my business on the spot. The gym is here, complete with instructor and muscle-making machines, the art studio is here. The pool is under my balcony and there’s the library next door. I am force-fed culture at the 6:30 lecture every evening in the auditorium and I don’t have to go outside to find a synagogue. There’s even a movie once a week. Of course huge globs of time are spent in the elevator.

As far as food is concerned, there is a dining room which I can choose to visit or not and which even allows me to take food up to the apartment. For company there is a coffee shop and lounge and to cap it all there is a hairdresser through that door in the corner. The nurse and doctor are in the clinic and a dentist comes around. Everything requires the elevator.

All that’s missing is a “Lubrication Point”, a watering hole where one can get a little something to oil the creaky joints and ward off pesky neighbors. I can’t think of anything else that’s missing. This lifestyle could be dangerous. If that elevator stops working…


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