Posts Tagged ‘aging’

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Dear Ryeder. “If you could be anything you want, what would it be?”

The teens I work with say “Dave, you are SO old!” (With major emphasis on the “so”.)  If I was their age, I would say the same thing. “Damn, I am SO old!”. I was born during the Korean War, participated in the “duck and cover” practices in a small rural school (like Russia would drop a nuclear bomb in Podunk, Maine), I remember the assassination of President Kennedy and I did my duty during the Viet Nam War. I was alive when the last veteran of the Civil War passed away, and took notice of how this world and this country has spiraled down to something that I thought could never happen. “Man, I am OLD!”

Even though I am reaching the status of “elderly person”, I would not change places with today’s youth. I can honestly say that I feel for them and I worry about their future. Maturing into a world that has so many problems and so few answers that resurrecting what once was will be a daunting challenge. I hope that there will be some of today’s youth who have the strength and the talent to find those solutions that needs to be discovered and do so without becoming bogged down by mindless political bureaucrats and self-absorbed special interests. I can only hope.

For me, advancing in age is a double-edged sword. I have made my mistakes and have learned from them. I have developed a mind-frame of what is important to me and feel confident that I have, for the most part, done my best and have contributed a little back to society. I have become hardened to the ignorance, violence and greed of governments and criminals (synonyms) but I still have my compassion for the disadvantaged of the world, my humor to laugh at my mistake and my joy, my gifts of family and friends, my opportunities to assist the direction of some great teenagers and my acceptance that I am only a human being that is flawed like all human beings. I am resigned to the fact that I live with numbered years ahead of me but I live best for today.

So, I guess to answer this question (and it was a real question asked of me by one of those kids I work with), I want to become a better human being and to continue what I do now for a long time to come.

Yeah, that’s me with the face…



Creative Photography

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It has been a long week. Paperwork, attitudes, denial, challenges and more attitudes. In between the crap I took a few moments and sat back to reflect on how the hell I reached the destination I am now presently located. One thought led to another and I was soon escaped reality and found myself back in a time when life seemed less complicated.

Many years ago, I met an old man who had given up the “civilized” life for the back woods of northern Maine. He simply said that when he couldn’t stand on his porch to take a whiz because of encroaching traffic and “too close” neighbors, then it was time to pack up his shit and move into the mountains. He spent the remaining years of his life cutting pulpwood, trapping, hunting, telling stories and drinking beer and enjoyed every damned minute of it. He never looked back. I envied that.

Though I have traveled pretty much most of North America, I have had the opportunity to meet only a handful of these rugged individuals. They seem to be a dying breed of individualism in today’s world. A weaker and less self-dependent society that lacks the strength and knowledge to survive or to do so without whining. A society absorbed with instant gratification, shallow dreams and shallower conclusions. I also met an old prospector out in the hills that overlook Reno and spent the weekend getting drunk with him and his girlfriend while I listened intently, or as intently as an alcohol haze allowed, to his many adventures of gold lust. Simple yet rugged. Educated yet unpretentious. This I envied also.

I own this desire to follow in their footsteps. To return to a simpler and reality based lifestyle with few wants and fewer needs. To sit in awe of fiery sunsets and high mountain meadows. To actually hunt the food for my table and do so with the skill and understanding that all things are connected and are cyclic in nature. You take only what you need and you give back with respect and appreciation.

One of my pass-times is the continuing search for the “perfect” bit of country where this dream can materialize. I have looked at properties that stretched from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of southern Colorado to the Musselshell of Montana, and though my search continues, it does so with knowledge that I am getting closer.

Dreams are the marrow of life while the journey to reach those dreams is the vitality of living. Someday, I will find that one piece of earth and when I succeed, I will finally be home. 

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I have a Jeep. This Jeep has had some added features, such as a 4” lift, body armor, off road tires, winch and a few other select items. I like my toy, but I was recently informed that it was time for me to grow up and sell my pride and joy.  NO WAY IN HELL!!!  I was getting too old, (AM NOT) or so I was told, to own something that a teenager would own. In my opinion, driving some boring car is not a prerequisite of acting my age. I act like I feel. Though I will admit that some days I feel as though I am 80, this phenomena is rare. Most days, I feel a bit younger than what my drivers license states.

Age is a fickle thing and created for old people or for people who think they are old. I have witnessed people twice as young as I am, living a life that an 80 year old would probably be embarrassed with and on the flip side, I have seen 80 year olds continue to latch on to the many adventures life has to offer us. I guess you get out of life what you put into it and the idea that society has tried to put a label on me makes me realize that I may grow old but I will never grow up.

Now, there will be some of you that will take that last comment and twist it into an idea that I shirk my responsibilities. Nothing could be further from the truth. Responsibilities are a part of life all mature individuals accept and follow through on, including me, so owning this toy of mine does not take away from the more serious parts of living. Bottom line is that a rocking chair, Geritol, and Depends are not part of my present existence and I plan that they never will be. Life is too damned short to sit on the porch and watch the big dogs run by. Where’s the mud?




Coming soon: Ryeder’s Digest

Already Here: Fuel 










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Most people can look back over the years and identify a time and place at which their lives changed significantly. Whether by accident or design, these are the moments when, because of a readiness within us and a collaboration with events occurring around us, we are forced to seriously reappraise ourselves and the conditions under which we live and to make certain choices that will affect the rest of our lives….Frederick F. Flack

There are some changes in life, when due to events or circumstances, that begin with pain and terminate in places where one never expected to be. Through the journey, there is a natural order to those phases of uncertainty, disbelief, fear, hopelessness finally culminating in a distinct succession of mind, spirit and realization that life continues beyond the present, when one actually believes that the future is predestined and life can be good. It is a journey that can be extremely difficult to traverse, and where strength is necessitated for completion and eventual acceptance of change. And once complete, the world opens into a new dimension. Here is the birth place of dreams. Never accept the premise that you are in a space where positive change is disallowed. Never accept that dreams cannot exist and never forget that happiness comes from our own attitude.

                            Go far, take chances and live passionately.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Legion Lake, winter sunrise in South Dakota






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For many of us “boomers”, we have worked hard and contributed much in our lifetime.  Our one major dream was the concept of retiring so we could enjoy a few care-free years before we dropped.  But what with the past financial crisis, thousands of boomers have lost much of their savings and investments to greedy banks and investment companies.

As recently as 2009, the SSA projected annual outgo of retirement benefits would not exceed annual income until 2016.

Early in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office announced that according to its own projections, Social Security would be running a negative cash flow as early as 2010—a full six years earlier than expected.

That projection was confirmed in the annual Social Security Trustees report, released in August of 2010.2 The SSA also projects that beginning in 2037, Social Security benefits could be reduced by 22% and could continue to be reduced annually.

So, how does one decide when to retire?  Here are some factors to consider as you decide when to take the money.

1. Your cash needs. If you’re contemplating early retirement and you have sufficient resources (adequate investments, a traditional pension, other sources of income, etc.), you can be flexible about when you take Social Security benefits.
However, if you can’t make ends meet without electing for an early, reduced benefit, you may want to consider postponing retirement for a few years until you reach your normal retirement age, or even longer.

2. Your life expectancy and break-even age. Taking Social Security early reduces your benefits, but it also means you’ll receive monthly checks for a longer time. Taking Social Security later results in fewer checks during your lifetime, but the credit for waiting means each check will be larger.

When it comes to Social Security, you’ve got three alternatives: 

  • Take it early
  • Wait until your normal retirement age
  • Wait even longer

The normal age for receiving Social Security retirement benefits is a moving target. You can still elect to take benefits early at age 62, or wait as late as age 70.

HERE is a quick way to estimate your potential Social Security Benefit check.  Thank you Washington.

Ryeder’s Digest, a work in progress, will feature content relevant to simple living for those of us who need to make ends meet.  See Ryeder’s Digest for more information.

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For many years, I sat and counseled teenagers whose future seemed to be bleak in their own eyes. A world of abuse, addictions, abandonment and violence. One of my beliefs that I would impart to them was to find a passion in their life, to find a dream and if that dream was strong enough, they would reach their goal…. Looking back now, I wonder if I lied to them. I have come to a better understanding that not all dreams are possible and not all attained goals can be considered successful. Success depends on one’s strength, one’s determination or one’s lack of opportunities and misguided interpretation of reality. One must have a realistic perception of what can be accomplished within their own personal limitations or imagination, which ever the case may be.

I think I realized finally that even with hard work, not all goals are reached. It may be that this aspiration and hard work was only a path to another focal point, one that was totally different than the original goal. And for the most part, that is OK. Sometimes when we try to reach our dreams we come to a point that as we grow closer to our objective, our evaluation tells us something is wrong. That there is a facet on this path we did not realize when we first began the journey and we may need to take a side step and reevaluate. There is nothing wrong with this approach as it is just a part of life and human nature.

For me, I always had the desire to work with youth and I did this for many years and without regret. I think I was a positive part of their lives and some of these youth (now grown) still talk to me once in awhile. Then one day recently, I chose to leave this behind me to return to a line of work that I had enjoyed in my younger days. With a couple of major changes, I did just that. Unfortunately, the dream of changing my world had it’s consequences. Consequences that created a void in my life and showed me first hand that some dreams are nothing more than that. An unrealistic daydream coupled with the consequences of moving away from family and friends and the obtuse idea that I was still “young enough” to handle this type of physical work. Those components didn’t seem to be a factor during my asinine decision making and to be honest, this type of stupidity is a bit embarrassing at my age.  Final score: In this case, I lost.  Not the war, just the battle.

Reality has a way of teaching one their place in the world. It can be a subtle example that gently gives one a little bit more wisdom, or it can be a severe slap-down that tells you exactly how much you screwed up. Either way, if one listens, one learns. And for some of us, it takes more than one beating to let this wisdom sink in. We all make bad choices in life and we all will continue to do so, but with less frequency as we learn. For me, it will be a return to what I do well, and to a place I feel connected in.  There is a return trip ticket for everyone.  Use it…


The reality...



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