Retired people _ especially those who retired by getting fully out of the rat race and using time for themselves rather than “volunteering” _ are often seen as drones. Useless folk who suck resources and sing and dance all day. For which they are supposed to feel more guilty than joyful.

A mature tree does not flip about the landscape, grow several inches a day, rearrange its local ecology. I like to think of myself in the same way. A stable, useful, long-lasting but transient result of my youth, still a quiet part of the forest.

“Oh,” claim the childish detractors, “but a tree is storing carbon and making oxygen. What are you good for?” In fact, I am still a full participant in consumer society even when I stay on the couch at home. I use electricity and gas, eat and utilize media, accrue various taxes and fees. I even do a few things like mowing my lawn, doing yard work, babysitting, cooking meals _ all of which I would get paid for if performing them for a complete stranger.

So I hang on to that tree image whenever I get a little rattled by imagined social pressure. And I also think supporting my family and friends socially must count for something. But mostly, importantly, I just am. And that is good enough

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