Saturday, December 29, 2012

Retirement Musings — Year End 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, I find myself waxing philosophical about a lot of things. Most of them have to do with the year’s presidential election and the divisiveness that prevails in our country. It’s led me to rethink the qualities Jagdish and I should be looking for in a retirement community. As you might expect, that means this post will not be as humorous as you’re used to seeing.

I often joke that the first thing I’d look for in a place to retire is whether or not they have a Whole Foods in town. This is not because I do so much of my shopping there, though I wish I could afford to. I have to be very selective about what I put into my recycled tote bag when I go to Whole Foods, or I’d breeze through my entire week’s budget in a half hour.

No, the reason I put Whole Foods on our retirement radar is because I assume that the company does a careful study of demographics and psychographics before it selects a location for one of its stores. I likewise assume that Jagdish and I will have a lot in common with the shoppers who fit their profile. They’ll probably share a lot of my values and aspirations and political leanings (or lack thereof). I hope they’d also share many of my interests and be our intellectual equals—or even superiors!

As the results of this year’s election came in, particularly regarding the passage of referenda in certain states, it occurred to me that I should add another criterion. No, it’s not that marijuana has been legalized. Hard though it may be for all of you to believe, I’ve never sucked on a toke, much less inhaled. I wouldn’t rule out the use of medical marijuana in my future, though, if I live long enough and develop aches and pains that are worthy of losing my weed virginity.

I’m referring to the fact that several states passed marriage equality laws. I’d like to see us retire to a community that is supportive of same sex marriage. That’s because I assume that such a community would have a broad respect for diversity, and that’s something that’s important to me. I imagine Jagdish and I would get along well with folks in a place like that.

This brings me to a wider list of search criteria that I’ve decided to include as we get closer to actually moving out of Rhode Island (or not, given the local real estate market). These terms come to mind as I look back on the presidential election. They represent a lot of what was missing in the dialogue, and much of what was far too pervasive (especially on Facebook).

I want to live where there’s a prevailing spirit of optimism, where there’s an attitude of civility and neighborliness. I’m looking for townsfolk who operate out of respect for others and for differences of opinion, and especially, out of respect for diversity in all its forms.

I don’t want to live out my twilight years in a place where there’s an air of paranoia. Keep me away from neighbors who are egotistical, arrogant or rude, and whose moral compass has a true North labeled “bigotry.”

Google me somewhere that welcomes spirited disagreement. Somewhere that decries the attitude that anyone who doesn’t share your point of view is stupid (even if they are) or will go straight to hell. (At least give them the chance to spend some time in limbo to redeem themselves.) It would be an extra benefit to live where folks know the difference between “you’re” and “your,” by the way.

If this past year is any indication, it could be a long, long time before I find our Shangri-La.

Happy New Year to all, however you’re going to celebrate! Wishing you and your loved ones a civil and respectful 2013. Salute!

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