An Early Retirement
about The Joy of Not
Should Have Been Written by Ernie Zelinski, But
In 2003 while working on the 21st Century Edition of the The Joy of Not
Working, I was surprised to come across a retirement poem called The Joy of Not
Working on a Website. I really liked the poem. Indeed, I should have written it, but I know that I am
not competent enough poetically to have done so.
Thus, on June 15 I e-mailed someone anonymous at the website asking whether I could use the poem in the new
edition of the book, which was to be published in October 2003. There was no response until June 10, 2004, almost a
year later, when I received the following e-mail:
SORRY that it took me so long to reply to the private message you left on my website. i've been away on
an open-ended vacation (no work!) since May 2003, so i haven't read private messages for me till now.
please feel free to include my poem "The Joy of Not Working" in your book with permission to do so, if it's
not too late already. i appreciate your interest in my work. once again, SORRY about the long delay in
replying to your message.
I promptly e-mailed Van Tu and informed him that the new edition of the book had already been published. I asked
him for permission to use the poem in another book and on my forthcoming website. I also asked him for his mailing
address so that I could send him a copy of my book The Joy of Not
Working. Here is Van Tu's response:
please feel free to use my poem The Joy of Not Working in your book Graffiti for the Soul and on your
The Joy of Not Working Website,
with proper acknowledgement. i'm enjoying the tropical beaches in southeast Asia at the moment! i'll
think of a convenient mailing address and give it to you later. thanks.
Obviously Van Tu practices The Joy of Not
Working better than I do, even though I wrote a fairly lengthy book on the topic
whereas he wrote a short poem!
His poem follows; I believe that you will like it, particularly the closing stanza.
The Joy of Not
I spend the whole early morning
Listen to light music
Daydreaming on and off
I leisurely take a long hot shower
Scrubbing myself from top to toe
Enjoying my excellent
I go for a slow walk after lunch time
Admiring the lovely flowers in the sunshine
Along the way
I ride my bicycle all over town
The cool breeze blowing in my face
Transports me back to sweet
When I was a carefree innocent teenager!
Those who know don't work . . .
2010 by Van
Tu — Used with Special
Surprisingly, four days later, before I could respond to him, Van Tu sent me another e-mail:
hello again, Ernie. i've just thought of something. have you ever explored the idea of living on a
tropical beach as a fun way to save money (and to retire early)? life here is very healthy and relaxing
because of the cheap cost of living, warm sunshine, lovely beaches, and slow pace of life. i feel so
comfortable here that i don't intend to go back to the USA any time soon!
My immediate response was a feeling of envy for this mysterious Van Tu who can forget his website for a year. I
knew nothing about this guy. Where was he from? The e-mail name he used was "non effort" (one word). The guy's
English was great, but he seldom used capital letters in his e-mails when he should have - talk about non effort!
Because I was curious about this guy, I e-mailed a bit of information about myself and asked him if he could tell
me something about himself. He replied a few days later.
thanks for telling more about yourself. i wish i had read your private message to me in June 2003 instead
of June 2004! that's the main drawback of living on a tropical beach: you become very lazy. one reason why
i mentioned the idea of living on a tropical beach to you is because i think it may give you some materials
for your next book, or at least a new chapter of one of your books. i know of many Westerners (including
some of my friends) who would love to be able to retire early and live on a tropical beach, but they have
no idea how to go about it. i know how to do it for myself, but i can't teach it to others. unlike you, i'm
not a good teacher at all, since i'm an introspective loner by nature. i write mainly to express my own
thoughts, feelings, and fantasies. LOL.
by the way, i'm 45 years old. however, being a Capricorn, i seem to age in reverse, and i'm now much
more healthy and athletic than when i was in my 20's and 30's! the outdoor life here has done wonders for
my fitness, and i've become the #1 swimmer on the beach here. LOL. i wrote the poem The Joy of Not Working
when i was living in California. now my routine is slightly different, since my daytime (from 11 to 5) is
spent on the beach on most days. so i guess i've become a full-time "beach boy"...
i read that you were an engineer who semi-retired at the age of 30. well, i was a computer scientist who
stopped working in hi-tech at the age of 30 and then retired fully at the age of 40. between 30 and 40, i
had to hold a menial government job to avoid starvation, and i really hated it. (the only good thing is
that it'll give me a small pension from the age of 50 onward.) so i don't ever want to work again!
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