Saturday, July 25, 2015

`Exempt from Future Service All His Days'

“But few that court Retirement, are aware
Of half the toils they must encounter there.
Lucrative offices are seldom lost
For want of pow’rs proportion’d to the post.”

Perhaps it’s merely an urban legend fueled by the bitter among us who still must work for a living, but folklore claims retirement after long service amounts to a death sentence. The newly emancipated with their fat pensions find leisure appalling. How much golf can one man play? Idleness breeds boredom, irritability and self-loathing. Bad habits follow – drinking, gambling, daytime television. Death comes as respite.

We are confident, however, that another fate awaits Dave Lull, the Omnipresent Wisconsin Librarian (OWL), who on Friday served his final day as Technical Services Manager at the Duluth Public Library.  Dave, I trust, has no plans to retire from his other job as the tutelary spirit of Anecdotal Evidence. Modestly, Dave calls himself “nitpicker.” I call him copy editor, fact-checker, hunter-gatherer and friend. My foolishness would appear even more blatant without his unheralded assistance. The ominous lines quoted above are drawn from William Cowper’s “Retirement” (1782). Here are the subsequent lines:

“Give ev’n a dunce th’ employment he desires,
And he soon finds the talents it requires;
A business with an income at its heels,
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
But in his arduous enterprize to close
His active years with indolent repose,
He finds the labours of that state exceed
His utmost faculties, severe indeed.
’Tis easy to resign a toilsome place,
But not to manage leisure with a grace,
Absence of occupation is not rest,
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress’d.
The vet’ran steed excused his task at length,
In kind compassion of his failing strength,
And turn’d into the park or mead to graze,
Exempt from future service all his days.”

Have an industrious retirement, Dave. As always, I’m grateful there’s a Lull in my life.

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