Day 5 in Boca Del Vista. I’m just settling into the notion of relaxing and having no particular place to go. I could get sort of used to this, but if this is retirement then my current sabbatical will be cut short. I need more to do. But the sun is a nice distraction as I try to sort out my life and plan next steps. I hear it is snowing at home right now. Screw. That.

Out of obligation to mom for her hospitality, and out of a need for something to do I took her car to get an oil change today. There is no shortage of places to service cars here, and despite my mom’s insistence on finding the best price I went with a name I knew and found a franchise. She doesn’t believe me that a full Synthetic oil change is 80 bucks no matter where you are, despite the 25 to 50 dollar special they offer online.

I took my time on the 20 minute drive. I left early to allow for misdirection and I just don’t feel like rushing around. I arrived 5 minutes early and pulled into a packed parking lot significantly less organized than Father’s Day in a Tennessee trailer park. I found a space and went in and greeted the amiable-looking fellow behind the counter. Despite making an appointment, he of course couldn’t find me in the system. Once that obstacle was overcome, the car was promptly brought into the service bay.

I’m not sure how the conversation began, but it was revealed that the amiable-looking fellow was a former street racer. Think Fast and Furious 1-172. He seemed to have a moment and he felt compelled to regale me with tales of his former lifestyle; encounters with police, his inability to get insurance later in life, and his near-death experiences. As a gearhead wannabe, I was enamored with the conversation but only dared to offer tidbits dare my lack of knowledge of vehicle technology reveal itself. It was good stuff, and overall it was a tale of redemption. He learned from his wild youth and is now, at 28 years old, managing his own shop. I liked him. I am a fan of the working man.

Soon, we were joined by what I could establish as a regular and two employees. The conversation inevitably turned to politics. There was no abundance of democrats in the room. The conversation was civil but leaned very right, so much that it almost made the moderate conservative in me feel like a liberal. I listened in to gauge how much of a conversation was occurring vs a series of tirades and rants. It was civil. When my opinion was solicited, the new kinder-better-fair and balanced me politely offered some insight and occasionally dissenting talking points to see if they were capable of tolerating. Now I am not a liberal. I lean right but I’m not a Nationalist. I try to see ideas for their merit, not what party originated them. As it turns out, I was able to steer them from attacks and Fox News talking points to a general discussion of the ideas and motivations behind the issues at hand. As it turns out, they were accepting of my input and they themselves were very capable of a civil and tolerant conversation. It was one of those moments that reminds me that we really are basically decent people that all need the same things, we just differ on the details.

Soon, an attendant brought the car around. I paid the invoice and thanked the gents for the great conversation. The amiable-looking fellow said to me on the way out,
“Thanks, Bill from New Hampshire. You’re one of the realest dudes I’ve talked to in my time here.” The others chimed in with agreement. As I pulled onto the controlled chaos known as a Florida Parkway I mused that “Real” is about the best damn thing I could have been called today.


Somebody once offered up in conversation that I was “Stoic”. As a guy who considers himself well-versed in language, context, and vocabulary I took it to mean that I have a rather stone-faced demeanor. That is to say that the initial interpretation of the face I presented to the world was indifferent and void of emotion. As it turns out, I wasn’t far off in my understanding of “stoic”. After some research I was then happy to learn that “Stoic” has more than one meaning,
1) A member of the ancient philosophical school of Stoicism.
2) A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining. To possess toughness and quiet endurance.
Interesting…I may have been onto something there.

A member of the ancient philosophical school of Stoicism.
I took an interest in Stoicism. I did some more reading and, like everything else in my life pre the great collapse of 2016, I moved on. It didn’t fit my lifestyle at the time. I recently revisited it after reading a fellow blogger. It is now apparent that it aligns perfectly with my current approach to existence. By aligned I mean it was a sledgehammer to the forehead.

A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining. To possess toughness and quiet endurance.
If you know me at all, pain and hardship have been omnipresent in my life. I have done my best to roll with it all and to try to convert it into self-improvement and motivation to inspire and help others. I have never complained, I have references. It doesn’t help anything, and nobody gives a shit. But it definitely shows on my face. I can’t count how many times it’s been said to me some variation of,
“when I first saw you I thought you were a jerk. But then I got to know you and you’re actually a good guy.”
I’ve also been told by employers and well-meaning coworkers that my facial expression, gone unchecked, was the male equivalent of Resting Bitch Face. I took it under advisement and made a conscious effort to be aware of it. But the nuts and bolts of it were that my face was saying, Don’t fuck with me, I have had enough and I am not going to give you a chance to hurt or reject me.
That was who and what I had become.
But the result, the fortunate side effect is, and I need to take a temporary break from my adherence to humility is;  yes, I am tough, I have endured a lot of shit and I am stronger for it and ready for more. Bring it the fuck on. So it logically follows that my face, as the window to my wounded soul, will reflect. To reluctantly but necessarily put a smile on it is to embrace the Shakespearian notion of Masks. Everyone, not just thespians, wears a mask to conceal who they really are and try to be someone else.

Stoicism is the approach from which I am existing. It is validating and empowering, more so with every page that I read. It is in synch with my new attitude of minimalism, simplicity, positivity, and adherence to values. It confirms my desire to no longer be the person I once was. At one time I was full of hubris. I wanted to run with the beautiful people. I wanted wealth and influence. I was not ruthless, but I wasn’t a man of true character. I cared less about virtue, empathy, compassion, and benevolence, opting instead for callousness and relative morality. I needed to make a change in order to sleep at night. If you believe that it is never too late to make a change, then change is not only possible but also achievable.

It is not possible if I am to keep your interest, to list all of the tenets and principles that appeal to me about Stoicism but I’ll offer 10 key principles.
Live in agreement with nature.
Live by virtue.
Focus on what you can control.
Distinguish between good, bad, and indifferent.
Take action.
Practice misfortune.
Add a reserve clause to your plan.
Love everything that happens.
Perception is key.
Be mindful.

As an aside, I find it significant and amusing that Stoicism is sometimes referred to as “Supermanism”, considering I have written over 300 posts under the moniker of Superman.

Del Boca Vista revisited

Nothing makes you ask yourself “what kind of an old person am I going to be?” more than spending a few days in a Florida Condo Association. 
I’m visiting Mom at her winter hiatus, God bless her she has earned it, and I am being bombarded with flashbacks of Del Boca Vista. 
Any Seinfeld fans out there? 
I so enjoyed the Seinfeld episodes that featured the delightfully and absurd antics of the retired Senior Citizen. If you’re not familiar, they had great fun with early dinners, over tipping, the political shenanigans of Condo Association leadership and the ever-present busy bodies that everyone kisses up to but secretly fear and despise. In short (or can I still call it that), stereotypes of the retired life. 
After spending 4 days here, I am not so sure that the stereotypes are entirely unearned.
Before I go on, I want to clearly state that I love the elderly. Anyone who knows me can confirm that. When I was a child, I spent as much time as I could with my Grandparents at the Senior Center. My grandmother loved to show me off and once that wore off, I found myself enamored with the wisdom, sage advice and overall attitude of the seniors. Some were grumpy but most were lovely. I spent most of my time with the Veterans and I had earned a middle-school level education of history by hearing the war stories, edited for my age of course.
This fondness of the elderly carried on through High School as I frequently visited shut in neighbors and volunteered at the local senior center. 
In College, my favorite professor was an elderly gent who taught “The Psychology of the Elderly”. I thought the course was eye-opening about the challenges faced by and the particular traits of the elderly. The professor was a charming, youthful old guy and I became very close with him. I truly was saddened by his death. 
I have maintained a healthy interest, and perhaps more importantly, a respect for the old. Having many a challenge to my own mortality, I am aware that reaching old age is a privilege denied to many. Therefore, when given a chance to hear a story, I listen. When a different perspective is available, I take the opportunity to learn it. But I have learned one valuable truth; there are several categories of elderly; among them are the forever young and enjoying life type, the “I do my best to keep up and tolerate life and it’s changes” type, the “I don’t want to learn anything new I’m too old” type, the busybody with the nose in everyone’s business, and the “get the hell off my lawn type”.
In one small development in West Palm, in less than one week, I have met them all. It hasn’t been all bad, many people here are a delight. And then some are tolerable. Some are humorous in an unflattering way. One was bad, in fact there were two.

Sunday I was walking the dog. I was on a paved path, well within common areas, and we walked past a first-floor condo with a screened in Lanai with 2 small yippy dogs. At the sight of us, the small dogs barked their tiny balls off at us, prompting the owner to come out and reprimand me for having the nerve to walk by her unit and upset her dogs. The sheer absurdity threw me a bit and I asked if she was serious. She was. I shook my head in disbelief and walked on, ignoring her fading chirping.
The day after I was again walking the dog and I encountered what appeared to be a pleasant elderly woman walking up and down a row of cars. When close enough I offered a “good morning”. What I received in turn was a angry lecture about “outsiders” who “don’t belong” parking illegally in what I can only assume was in the general vicinity of her guest spot? I shut myself off to it and when she attempted to engage me further I said, “I have absolutely no interest in any conversation about whatever this is” and kept walking. I’m pretty sure I heard a pronounced Hmmmph!
That was the worst I have encountered.
Somewhat less uncomfortable but annoying nonetheless is my mother’s friend who likes to boycott events (big stuff like movie night and appetizers by the pool) to send a message that nobody cares about to someone who doesn’t understand the message or the reasoning behind it. To make it worse, she tries to dictate who can be friends with whom, with the threat of excommunication looming over them if they don’t comply. Why?
But to balance things out, last night I had a cocktail with 2 gents hiding from their wives at the pool and we had an amazing conversation. They were charming, pleasant and enjoyable to talk to. I chose to sip my drink and predominately listen. The military history, the jobs they held (one of the gents was the national distribution manager for the first incarnation of the Cabbage Patch Doll (remember what a sensation that was?). The other was a former executive director of Habitat for Humanity. These gentlemen were a delight to be around. 

They definitely are the cream of the crop of Del Boca Vista. The other are interesting to say the least. My respect for their generation and obvious longevity remains. But the question arises…What kind of old person am I going to be? That’s a whole other post.