So, I didn’t retire… again.
I reread my commentary from a year ago where I talked about retirement and ultimately decided not to. I wrote then that I had “regained a deep appreciation for my job.”
This year, I did not have to “regain” that appreciation; it was already there. But I do think more about retirement, and I know that will come soon. I just don’t know exactly when “soon” is, but here are some of the things I think about:
The first is that life happens. I could get sick. Too many of my friends and people that I know have become seriously ill or died that it is profoundly naïve to think I will be spared the vagaries of aging. (I’ll be 69 in February.) Even if nothing life-threatening happens, inevitably skills diminish over time.
I am conscious that I am an employee. WVRC Media is a wonderful company, and I have been fortunate to work here all my adult life, but successful businesses evolve and there is always the possibility that the future will not include me.
My energy level is not the same as it was. With age, I find it harder to muster the energy necessary to perform my responsibilities at the high level I set for myself. I don’t bounce back as quickly as I used to after a long day or week.
But I worry about missing out. I enjoy being in the fray of the daily goings-on in our state. It is exciting and stimulating. What happens when that all ends? Will I be left empty and depressed? I find myself ending the last couple of years telling myself, “I want to do this for one more year.”
I have sacrificed a lot of family time over the years. I have dear friends at work. I will miss them terribly when/if I get around to retiring, but I also look forward to more time with my family. As the saying goes, no one puts on their gravestone that they wished they had spent more time at work.
But there are always the rewards of work, that exhilaration that comes at the end of the day when you know you have done your best and maybe, in some small way, have made a difference. It is that sense of accomplishment that reinforces my career choice.
And finally, I will refer back to the first reason, because this is what I think about the most. Senator Robert Byrd in his autobiography referred to his later years as “the long afternoon with lengthening shadows that stretch to the hills of night.”
I see those shadows and can no longer pretend they are not lengthening. But for now, and hopefully for the duration of 2024, I’ll try to continue moving forward energized by the warmth of the sun on my face that comes with my job.