Years ago, I read an anthropology book that included a description of a tribe with a strange custom. To ensure favorable treatment by the gods, the tribe would select someone to be the King of Delights. The King of Delights would live a pampered existence treated like a god. The King lived in the best hut and received the most delightful meals. The King’s day was filled with music, diverting entertainments, and cooling breezes. At night, a warm fire and the softest bed.
Eventually, when the tribe needed a favor from the gods, they’d kill the King of Delights as a sacrifice.
It turns out that my retirement is just like that.
I’ve been retired for three years now. I spend my days drifting from one pleasure to the next. I have music, great food, cooling breezes, a soft bed, and coffee fit for a king. I get to work on projects that interest me and set whatever pace I find delightful. I can draw as much or as little as I want.
Like the King, one of these days my time will be up. Probably no tribe is going to throw me into a fiery volcano. But somehow the party will be over and I’ll be dead. It could be tomorrow or years from now, but it’s coming.
Every time I think of the similarities between how I live and how the King of Delights lived, it reminds me how lucky I am. The knowledge that it’s going to end makes each moment a little sweeter.
Each day that passes and I find that I have not been thrown into the volcano of oblivion by the burly witch doctor of fate, is a precious gift. I’m super duper grateful. I hope I can keep the gig for decades, but I’m not counting on it. I better go draw something now while I have the chance.
Pittsburgh, August 23, 2017
August 25, 2017
Maybe the King could negotiate a less binary option for pleasing this suspiciously arbitrary deity. How about, instead of sudden volcano insertion, punishment could consist of a temporary withdrawal of sriracha sauce? Or an increase in steps-walked-per-day as measured by some “smart” device? Or maybe use of only the next-softest bed? Just a thought.