One quarter remains.

Two events joined to make this week of note to me. I passed 66 and 2 months when I can collect 100% of my social security. This is meaningful to me not because I expect to need a larger paycheck from the Federal Government but more from a sense of responsibility as a citizen. My parents and schooling led me to believe in the Rousseauan social contract that all members of a society are bound to contribute to the general well-being in return for the benefits. Socrates embodied this concept when he accepted his sentence to drink hemlock rather than an offered escape. Cassius Clay understood this when he went to jail for refusing to fight in Vietnam. He paid his debt to society and was reborn as the great Muhammad Ali. Both understood that when you live in a society and receive its rewards, you assume an implicit obligation to contribute to that society’s ability to confer those rewards. I cannot aspire to the heights of Rousseau, Socrates, and Ali. But as a citizen, I feel I should make my fair and due contribution to society’s production. Social Security is having financial problems because people are retiring too early, living too long, and not making their fair contribution to the common good. I cannot be one of the people who contribute to burden and maintain my pride.

The other event of the week was the southward equinox. One quarter is all that remains in the year. Entering the year of my retirement is like the passage of my life. I feel that roughly one-quarter of it remains. I’ll be 87 at the end of this next quarter and assume there won’t be much more left to go. I see retirement as a time to maximize my learning and training, using what I’ve learned to hone myself into a final product. In 2020, I let myself slip under the stress of working under COVID and all the nonsense over masks and vaccinations. One quarter remains. It opens as a challenge: what can I do with the time? How can I increase what excellence I have to contribute to both my self-satisfaction and to society?