I recently saw the new movie, Some Kind of Heaven, which was an Official Selection of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. It is about the Florida retirement community known as The Villages. Here is the official trailer:
My main reactions to the film were 1) it sounds like a slice of hell to me; 2) I love my wife more than ever; and 3) people are often confused about the nature of happiness and meaning.
First, while many retirees are undoubtedly happy their life of continual adolescence doesn’t interest me. Yes, I enjoy playing golf—my one hobby—but I don’t want to do it every day. Nor do I want to become the actor, cheerleader, or dancer I never became or party and drink margaritas every evening. And I most definitely don’t want to live in a world without children. Again, I’m not saying some people wouldn’t enjoy this just that I wouldn’t.
Second I couldn’t help but contrast the life my wife spends in service to others with the lives lived in this retirement cocoon. While my wife’s labors are tiring and frustrating at times they give her life meaning. And I’d like to think that the time I take to write on my blog has meaning for some readers; I know it is meaningful to me. I’d much rather do work that I love, enjoy my relationships with family, and try to better understand life than perpetually partying. That seems to be just a diversion from life in all its varied tapestry.
Now I know that people find joy in different things. But there is a long tradition in Western philosophy that sees happiness not as something to be directly sought but as a byproduct of doing meaningful things. My sense was that many of these retirees seek happiness directly and forget that true happiness—contentment and inner peace—is found as a byproduct of meaningful work and loving relationships. You can move to Florida or Hawaii but in the end, you take yourself with you and only find true meaning to the extent you cultivate it within.
There’s a lot more to be said but you won’t find me heading to The Villages. (“Where dreams come true” is their motto). Here is a link if you’d like to buy or rent the video.
9 thoughts on “Some Kind of Heaven”
I’m with you on this one. Learned and internalized the Hedonistic paradox years ago. Do not wish to live in any community that has funeral directors as the most frequent visitors.
So, is your wife a nurse? If so, then tiring and frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe the agony; I am a retired professional RN. Though since I don’t know if your wife is in that field, I will not go on. What I do know is that nursing caused me to not want to be the sacrificial lamb of the public any longer. My best years were given in service to others, only to be repaid with betrayal by the system for reward; so much for a fulfilling career. The stress is so intense that my late brother in law (an ER RN) died from a heart attack after finishing a shift. I have known other male nurses to have panic attacks from the front lines of hospitals, as well. Nurses are nothing short of soldiers at war. Today though, I sit at my desk alone in my home earning more money than I ever did as a nurse, and I would never go back to doing anything else. Heck, I would even play golf all day everyday to get away from that hellish nightmare. So before one goes on judging the good life that someone else thinks is a welcome relief and even suggesting that they don’t know the real meaning of happiness and meaning, remember that what looks like fulfilling work of others could easily be a life they can’t get out of and are secretly crying inside…Like I was and most of my nurse (and physician) colleagues. Maybe many of us retirees don’t seek happiness directly because we forgot about meaningful work and loving relationships, but rather because we found out after many exhausting years the grass is not greener when endlessly doing the heavy lifting of life, after all.
well put Kevin. And if you’ve watched the movie you know you’re right on.
I agree. The Trumpian dream of a heaven with golden toilets and eternally hollow parties of the so called great Gatsby types is more hell than heaven.
Let’s have justice and loving and meaningful relationships for heaven.
I remember when I first realized that most people–even the most highly educated people working in important professions–basically don’t care at all about things like “meaning,” “Truth” (with a capital “T”), preserving civilization and the human race in the face of existential dangers, helping the less fortunate, and so on.
Most people are like the characters on the “Seinfeld” TV show, which was billed as “a show about nothing,” but would be better described as a show about superficial people (which is what most people are).
Plato, in his description of the best-of-all-possible-worlds Republic, did not prescribe that all citizens and slaves should be philosophers. Plato prescribed that only the kings should be philosophers. And he prescribed that those philosopher kings should rule the other people by means of “noble lies,” i.e., by invented, supposedly divine myths that are promoted as being literally true.
In all of this, I think Plato was being realistic about human nature.
But in the USA and in similar nations, the idea is prevalent that every citizen should be, can be, and eventually will be, a philosopher. Educators especially promote this ideal.
When I began studying philosophy, I thought it was a given that intellectually honest and clear communication to others was an essential of the philosophical way. But then I was shocked to discover that the founding father of Western Philosophy advocated that philosophers should control and govern other people with myths, which really is what Donald Trump does with great aplomb and skill.
Even if we say that Donald Trump’s lies are ignorable lies/myths and not noble lies/myths, the fact remains that Plato endorses the principle that rulers should rule by lies/myths.
But, as I see it, the fault lies not in our stars, or in Plato, or in Donald Trump, but in our human nature as biological beings of the DNA variety (the only variety of biological beings known to us).
When I read Darwin’s “Origin” and “Descent,” everything in human life seems to be aptly explained, and there’s no longer any need for any philosopher—unless and except if I want to learn how to rule over others, or to make money from others, or to provide care and assistance to others, by means of the only way to accomplish these things: noble/ignoble lies/myths.
Retired nurse and loving it… What do you do at your desk at your home that earns you more money than a nurse? That is the info I came to this blog for 🙂
I’ve been to the Villages, I used to winter in Florida before Covid and the Villages were close and a popular destination on the weekend, I had no particular desire to live there, things seemed too hectic and loud for me, but,, if you were looking for the land that time forgot,,well that is what the Villagers were looking for as well!
America is a land that idolizes youth and the Villagers want to feel that they are still young, of course they aren’t but facts and wants sometimes have difficulties cohabiting in the same person! The people in the villages buy their homes and pay their own way and it seems for many of them, that money is no restraint on desires no matter if the desires seem impractical to those who don’t have them or perhaps don’t have the money to indulge them.
So! if you are in your Eighties and want to ride your motorcycle and wear tight dungarees move to the village and indulge yourself, it is your money and it is your fantasy and your friends are others who share your delusions, so why not? Sour grapes is often the response of those who wish they could but can’t!
Well, I couldn’t disagree more. I think these communities are a million times better than the depressing normal care homes, nothing more than warehouses for the moribund. Also I don’t care about my life having meaning and contributing to society shit. I would retire today if I could and was assigned a decent pension. I’ve been a teacher for 33 years and I’m totally exhausted from it and hate it more and more as time goes by. I can feel life being sucked out of me by the tens of obnoxious brats I have to deal with every day.