Imagining my Ideal Retirement Lifestyle

While it is true that I never regretted leaving my life as a professional cellist, about a dozen years after beginning to study mathematics I woke up and realized I wanted a banjo.

I didn’t know how to play a banjo.  But ever since I was four years old I have loved the sound of a banjo.

So I got in my car, drove to the nearest music store, had the proprietress play a couple banjos for me and bought one.  As I loaded my new banjo into my car, it felt very natural to have an instrument in my hand again.

I loved having it.  But although I poked around at it a bit I didn’t actually begin to learn to play it until many years later.

Five or six years went by.  In my mathematical life, I needed a good “professional development” project so I wrote a freshman level course which explored how various bits of math describe “music that sounds good.”

My course was approved and I taught it three times over four years, each time experiencing in my heart, thus improving my ability to teach, more of how music and mathematics enrich each other.

Then I woke up one morning and knew it was time to learn how to play my banjo.  That summer I went to banjo camp and came home with Skip to M’Lou and Short’n’n Bread firmly in my ear and occasionally accessible to my fumbling fingers.

I got all fired up about learning to play by ear.  My mental grasp of music was very different in this world where music notation isn’t central to the enterprise!  I began to wonder what an experience of mathematics would feel like if we could transmit it without notation.

When it came time to imagine my ideal retirement lifestyle, I relished the though of being able to develop these “math by ear” ideas.  I knew too that I wanted to learn more about statistics and financial math.  I planned to finish several intriguing knitting patterns.  And of course, I would keep learning how to play my banjo better and better.

Now that projects and plans were in place I could begin to settle on what to send over the Great Plains, a desert and two mountain ranges to meet me in California.


The featured image is a snapshot of a blackboard demonstration of calculating a rhythm to fit a descriptive sentence.  We did a few of these exercises in my class.

In the next posts we’ll continue ideas for creative decluttering, otherwise known as alternatives to hiring a dumpster.

Author: American Declutterer

I've had three careers, moved among thirteen states, and cleared four houses after loved ones moved on. Sometimes you just have to look at all the stuff and laugh. Then get back to discarding.

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