Woke up from a dream this morning at 3:30, my mind working on how to create a water fountain that would change design according to the desire of the viewer. This wasn’t my mind trying to solve a real world problem that I had been working on, it was only a dream, but in waking I realized that I was enjoying the challenge of solving the problem. I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but it was too late – my mind was up and running.

Most often it is not the details of a dream that matter, but rather the underlying message of the dream, and this one was clear to me; I have not been challenging myself. I have settled into a routine of just making it through each day.

Forty years of doing the same kind of work has made every workday a tedious bore. Are there ways to make my work more interesting or more challenging? Yes, there could be, and most self-help gurus would tell you to try to do exactly that. To tell the truth, though, I am so done with this work that I can’t bring myself to make it into something that will require me to work more at it. That isn’t the kind of challenge I want or need.

The odds that I am going to go out and find a different, more interesting job at my age, and in this economy, are slim to none at best. No, my challenges are not likely to come from working for someone else. I am going to have to create my own opportunities in order to thrive. To some people that may mean starting their own business, but that isn’t where my passions lie, though I would not discount that possibility if it was a natural extension of my other interests. What I am going to have to do is move away from spectator activities and into doing. Get out from in front of the television and World of Warcraft and do something creative, challenging and involving.

Actually, I have recently done something to challenge myself. I have always been a bit of a techie kind of person, being into computers for a long time (like in punch cards and punch tapes – before personal computers even). However, I know that I have not been keeping up with current trends and technology as well as I would like.

Not being much of a social person, social networking stuff like Facebook and Twitter doesn’t hold my interest, though I do want to be familiar with what they have to offer. No, I’m more of a hardware and software kind of guy. Unfortunately, that stuff costs money, which is in rather short supply. My son has the latest iPhone and it’s pretty cool, but the cost of the phone plan needed for it will not fit into my budget. I’m not a big cell phone user anyways. My old, pay-as-you-go, candy-bar cell phone more than serves my needs.

So what to do? Buy an iPod touch (4G) No, that wasn’t in the budget either, but an unexpected bonus check made it possible. An iPad would have been nice, but holy cow, I ain’t wealthy. At least the iPod touch gets me into the game and so far it’s been a fun experience. I know, it’s not a big step into newer technologies, but at least now I know what Angry Birds is all about.

That’s one small example of things I need to do. It isn’t limited to computer technology. I have plenty of other areas of interest with which I can challenge myself. The hard part is keeping up the enthusiasm to keep moving ahead. Things get to feeling so pointless that it is hard to maintain an interest in living let alone in new things. It comes down to the old “chicken-and-egg” routine – life isn’t worth living if you don’t have anything interesting to keep you involved, but you don’t care about being involved if you feel like life isn’t worth living.

As an old fart, I know that I have to keep my mind engaged or I’m sunk. Hell, my body is already that of someone twenty years older than I am. If my mind goes that way, too, then I really might as well just pack it all in right now. I guess I’m not quite ready for that, at least not at this moment, so I better scare up a few challenges for myself for the weekend. If nothing else, I need to get the dishes done. Believe, me, that’s quite a challenge.