You know what I’m hearing a lot lately?
“So, you retired yet?” Or: “How much longer until retirement?” Then there’s the always-lovely: “You must be retired by now, eh?”
I often get these questions when I run into people I haven’t seen or talked to in a while.
I get it, I’m looking old. My hair’s gone white. My skin isn’t as smooth as it used to be and now there’s a stiffness in the bones. But I’m not retired.
I’m close – I just turned 60 (which still blows my mind). So, I’m looking at five more years until I would traditionally retire. But traditions have taken a beating these days and it’s very possible, in fact, it’s close to likely I won’t be retiring in five years.
There are a number of paths laid out before me and I feel like my life is reflecting an earlier period, that of my early-to-mid-20s when I was approaching university graduation (with a Bachelor of Arts, that ubiquitous degree in generality) and facing the fact that I wouldn’t be able to put off real-life for much longer.
I had a great time at university – I wanted it to end but I sorta didn’t – you know what I mean? But it was a time when the future was an open book and many possible paths lay before me.
Time to get on with my life but I had to parlay a B.A. in Communications with a minor in Political Science into a paycheque.
Truth is, it wasn’t possible. I didn’t even try to. Except, I like to think I continued it by signing up for a journalism program at a community college. It was a great move – it got me a job, and more importantly, a career.
Now, I guess, that career is approaching the end – that sounds awfully ominous, doesn’t it? But I guess it is and that’s what everybody thinks of when they see me.
However, it’s not likely to be the end of my working life – once again, a number of paths lay open before me.
Retirement’s a different thing these days, compared to my father’s generation. We’re now looking at living longer and certainly being fit enough to be active past 65 years of age. In fact, many people are working well past 65 and not just for financial reasons.
Many people are working in their retirement years on volunteer projects or some kind of self-employment. Others are finding that they’re still in demand because there are no replacement workers coming up behind them, resulting in people being able to work part-time or job share in positions they used to hold.
I have plans in development that may or may not involve me continuing to do what I’m doing or I may branch out into something that makes use of my creative skills (writing, photography, videography) on a freelance basis.
It’s funny, but I don’t know of many journalists that retire. Obviously, they do but it’s usually a profession that you leave for a cushy government communications job. So, grey-haired reporters are not the image that comes to mind when you think of somebody on the news beat.
Crusty old editors are a thing and I think I’ve got that down pretty well, along with colleagues of mine who have been on the job for a while throughout Black Press.
I am often self-conscious when I show up at an event with my camera and notepad these days – I feel I should be stashed away in an office doing something office-y.
But that’s the beauty of this job. Sure, I’m frequently tied to the desk but I am still required to get out in the field, which is great. Shooting photos or being at places where things are happening never gets old – even if I do.
And it was at an event I was covering recently when, once again, the subject of my retirement came up.
But you know, I’m always still looking at ways of improving, becoming a better writer, better photographer and a better manager, always trying to progress.
Alistair Taylor is editor of the Campbell River Mirror.