I didn’t plan to retire, but it looks like I did.
I thought I’d be a lifer, would work at The Province until the newspaper or me drew its last breath.
What happened instead was more instinctual.
It’s not like I hadn’t thought about retiring. I was coming up to the official age for retiring, March 11, 2017, and had received forms for Old Age Pension and the Canada Pension Plan. I was informed by Blue Cross that my weekly disability pension would stop coming at 65, and my file would be closed. Also, I discovered I liked lying in bed, only getting up out of restlessness or because I had a commitment. As I used to be a morning person who got up early and worked determinedly until I was done by noon, take a short nap or lunch, and then work determinedly some more, this was a real turnabout.
Toward the end of 2016, Human Resources issued a letter announcing Post Media’s Voluntary Staff Reduction plan.
This was a buyout offer that sought to reduce staff across the entire Post Media organization by 25% , but between the lines it read like extortion. Leave or else.
It might be the last buy out offer and after that might come lay offs. I had been writing for The Province 37 plus years and didn’t relish putting in all that time only to be laid off. I’d soon be 65 anyway so I might have left but, as tantalizingly close as my birthday was, there was a feeling I’d be laid off regardless.
With the paper embroiled in a fight for survival that had seen different policies, rules and procedures enacted, I no longer comfortable working there. I sensed I was more of its past than its future. The paper had changed; I hadn’t.
This convergence of factors led to one conclusion: Get out!
So I did. Applied for the buy out, was accepted, had my last working day January 31.
The next morning I felt exactly the same. The difference was that I had no responsibilities or commitments. I could have worked and, if asked, I would have.
Months later, I’ve made an adjustment. The transition to retirement hasn’t been traumatic. I’ve treated the last while as a long vacation, the one I’d never had. I’ve come to realize I can be a music fan again. The pitfall of being a journalist is that you can spend hours on a band or act you don’t like. Do the listening, the research, the interview, the writing. It’s not why I got into music at the beginning. I wanted to discover music that excited me and tell anyone about it. Share my excitement.
Now, I can return to my roots, so to speak, and get reacquainted with what has become a vast record collection.
Changed habits, put together a schedule that makes time for a renewed urge to make illustrations, write song lyrics, relearn guitar, pay more attention to my health. Weigh options and choices but not jump into them.
This means writing what I want when I want for my website. So, I’m stocking up on ideas that will become a regular feature. Got any?
I’ll be writing book and record reviews and, when appropriate, stories on bands or personalities. Send any pertinent material to me at 5561 Smith Avenue, Burnaby, B.C., V5H 2K7. You already know to write in tomharrisonmusic.com
I’ve retired but am still active. My future is still being written. By me.