“I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
The above quote from T.S. Eliot’s masterpiece “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is an epigraph for a change in the focus of this blog.
Prufrock is a poem I read in college which has resonated with me for the last 30 years. As a college student who was too cool for poetry, I remember my lack of enthusiasm when it was assigned in my sophomore English class . Maybe, it’s because I have always had a romantic outlook on life, but I immediately connected with the melancholy feel of the poem. It is narrated by an introspective older man looking back on life with sadness and regrets. At 20 years old, I was relating to lines like these:
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
The professor taught the class that there was no definitive meaning to the poem. rather it was about how it made one feel when reading it. For me, Prufrock has always been about reflections on an unfulfilled life.
It was while recently studying a book on retirement happiness that I was reminded of Prufrock. None of us want to end life thinking that we didn’t live the best life we could. Part of my role as a retirement planner is to help my clients develop a balanced, meaningful, financial life. I asked myself: beyond producing financial plans and advising on investments, taxes and insurance, how can I do this better? The first thing I thought of is to communicate better to clients the emotional and behavioral issues that effect savers and retirees. In an effort to do that I am changing the focus of my blog.
The “Your Retirement Life” blog will be some of what it has always been: practical lessons in finance and investing – these are still needed to teach and keep you grounded. But it will also be a philosophical exploration on how to balance saving, living and managing in a world whose technology is rapidly changing the economic and social foundations that have been the norm for the last 100 years.
Future posts will discuss my own life experiences, books on retirement happiness, highlight other bogs/articles in this arena and provide tools and ideas to help direct your retirement life.
As a financial planner and blogger I am not a Prince Hamlet, rather I am the “attendant” to your Prince Hamlet, just as Prufrock is a guide to his readers on the struggle and disillusionment of modern life:
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
Yes, I may sometimes be the fool. There are no perfect answers to: which investment is best or whether to work longer, what to do in retirement or whether to purchase long term care insurance? Sometimes, advise and decisions don’t play out.
But what I can do is to help you think about your own situation and put perspective and probabilities on decisions to help you enrich and fulfill your lives. None of us want to have the voice of Prufrock echo in our heads when we are at the end of our days:
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
To that end, the focus of this blog will be about giving practical and philosophical guidance on living a balanced and fulfilled life.
Here is a link to the full poem: