By Ken Trainor
I have good news, unless you think it's bad news, in which case the bad news, unless you think it's good news, is that I'm retiring in June.
But it's good news for me. I've been looking forward to this for a long time, in some ways since childhood. On June 6, I turn 65. Yes, I know. Full retirement benefits don't start until you're 66 and those who know say you should keep working till 70 if you enjoy what you're doing.
I enjoy some of what I'm doing, but what I don't enjoy is how time-consuming the job is. Time is the most precious thing to me now. I tell people I'm retiring in order to start working, not stop — on personal projects, which have been idling impatiently in the queue for years, ready to surface as soon as life allows. It might be poetry, whose pull I have felt more acutely in recent years. It might be a grandfather blog (that seems a natural). But mostly I crave letting my mind roam free, without the fetters imposed by the deadline monster looming over my shoulder. Twenty-six years of that would tire anyone out.
The good news, unless you think it's bad news, is that I'll still be writing my column, though I'm planning to pivot and make it more locally focused. I will also be helping out around here on Mondays and Tuesdays with deadline — copyediting and generally helping push our papers past the finish line. So I'll still declare fealty to the deadline monster, but only two days a week. The rest of the week, for the most part, will be mine.
I will continue to oversee the Viewpoints section, which is near and dear to my heart — being the vox populi of the paper — but I won't be handling the Calendar page (Big Week), obituaries, the Homes section, the arts (except through my column occasionally), or the myriad other requests, suggestions, complaints and corrections that currently end up in my catch-all in-box. I've never been the only "go-to" person around here, but I am that person for some. That will change come June.
The good news is I'll have more time. The bad news is you can never have enough time when your aim is creativity, which isn't something that can be "scheduled." Creativity is the result of living creatively, and that requires time. I have a sense of what it takes, and I'll learn more as I go along. The best thing is I'll be able to move at … a … slower … pace.
I owe a lot to this enterprise. Wednesday by Wednesday, I've learned much, serving what I like to call "the world's longest apprenticeship." The world has changed a lot since 1990, and so have I.
But I'm ready — more than ready really — to see what else I'm capable of embracing. I'm glad I'll remain connected to the goings-on in Oak Park and River Forest, but I'm eager to step away from the weekly treadmill.
We all know that Oak Park is no utopia, but it's closer to my idea of utopia than anyplace in my experience. The longer I live and work here, however, the more I appreciate it, especially the people. I hope my future columns will help readers appreciate these villages, and living here, all the more.
Nobody knows how many productive years one has left after 65. Could be many, could be only a few. I'll savor whatever I'm granted. Since I was a kid, I've thought about this stage of life and looked forward to it. Just a hunch that this was where I would make my mark, whatever mark that might be. We'll see.
Some call retirement the "golden years." Hinduism refers to it as "the forest stage" of the life cycle, where elders go off by themselves into the wilderness to live out their remaining days. I don't plan to wander away from Oak Park. I'm better off being connected. I just want to let my mind wander where it will.
I know that aging isn't for sissies, as Bette Davis said, but even if the upcoming years aren't "golden," they'll still have a glow — and plenty to offer. Regardless of what's in store, I'm ready.
There is more to say on all this, and I plan to explore it in the next few weeks, but this week I just wanted to give notice because some of you have been on this journey of discovery with me for a long time.
It is a privilege to write these weekly missives to you.
Answer Book 2019
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