In August I publicly announced that I would be retiring at the end of June, 2018 when my current contract with my employer comes to an end. Ten months is a long notice period, and June still feels like a very long way away, but as autumn slides into winter I can feel the time getting shorter and the “lasts” mounting up.
I’ve had my last performance evaluation, and experienced my last audit. I just got back from what is probably my last professional conference, or at least the last that I will attend as a working professional. I’ve been through my last election cycle for my publicly elected governing board, and my last of a variety of recurring programs and activities. I am now replying to invitations to many work-related holiday parties and events that have become traditions over the past 14 years knowing they too will be my last.
Each of these lasts marks another step on the journey to a future that I have planned for, and dreamed, of for many years, so they are in that sense happy occasions. But these lasts are also associated with people who I have come to know well and care about deeply but may rarely (if ever) see once I retire, so each is also bittersweet.
I have many plans for the next phase of my life’s journey and long lists of projects I want to complete, trips I want to take, activities I want to explore, and books I want to read. After many years where my social life was inextricably intertwined with my work and professional live, I have successfully created a life outside of work, with friends who are not tied to my profession or my job. I have worked hard to make sure our finances are in order, and am confident that we can sustain our lifestyle even when the inevitable economic downturns come. In short, as much as I think I can be, I am ready.
At the same time, I am acutely aware that there is much that I do not know about the road ahead…from “little” things like the specifics of how our days will unfold without the structure of my job, to how our relationship will fare with so much togetherness, to the big uncertainties about Don’s health (and mine!) and how the aging process will affect our lives. I would be lying if I said that I was not more than a little anxious about these things.
A few weeks ago one of my favorite blogs, Rob Firchau’s The Hammock Papers, had a poem by David Whyte that I keep reading and re-reading –