By Craig Funston
The end of August (ie., back to school) is both a glorious and frightful time for many of our readers. Those on the glorious side are as follows: stationary and clothing merchants, some moms and teachers, some students and school bus drivers; and on the other side, the list includes: some teachers, many new teachers, some students, and the rest of the school bus drivers.
So, you can see that heading back to school is a 50-50 proposition: half look forward to it, others don’t; for some, it’s glorious, for others, not quite. Even for those that do look forward to it, it may be no more than an opportunity to earn a paycheque once again. And we all need paycheques, don’t we?
The “some moms” part is tough call, too: Many mothers enjoy having their kids around all the time, but the juggling act of having them around while holding down a fulltime job (in addition to having the fulltime job of running the household) is just too much.
That’s where I have to hand it those brave souls who teach their kids at home: Not only have they chosen to not work outside home (with both its inherent benefits and stresses), but they are with their kids twenty-four hours a day, give or take a few hours of sleeping and shopping.
Then there’s people like me, who have said “enough is enough,” and “it’s time to move on.” I love teaching, but I no longer have the fire in my belly for it. And I could always do with the extra salary, even at two days a week. However, my life is too complicated and distracted to spend the better part of 26 extra hours each week (teaching, driving, prepping, and marking) in school-reated tasks.
Folks say that I am “retired.” But when they see the look of horror on my face, they correct themselves by using the word “semi-retired” instead. Well, it’s “no” and “no.” I suppose I am retired from teaching, and I suppose people say that sincerely, but I’m not retired, per se.
From teaching, yes; from working, no.
My primary job remains the supervision of homeschoolers, which is growing, and demanding more and more of my time. I am also now starting to write legal curriculum for a pair of lawyers in Calgary, hoping to place it into Canadian high schools soon—a very ambitious, but long-overdue project.
In addition, I will up my chicken and turkey business shortly, supplying organic, government-inspected birds to those who want them. I am also planning to work with an area domestic wood retailer, supplying them with well-seasoned, well-weathered wood from barns, corrals, and granaries.
(I may give you a call soon about that pile of junk, er, wooden history, just behind those hoppers of yours.)
Even though I’m 62, as I recounted in recent columns, though I don’t feel a day over 72…I mean, 52. I have too active a mind to slow down, though the body isn’t quite as spry. I need to be going and doing. Though sometimes the highlight of any day is watching re-runs of Bonanza and Hogan’s Heroes.
I wish I was 52, even 42. I have a lot of dreams and visions (not the same, but certainly related) that are designed more for a younger guy with unlimited years ahead of him. At this stage, I have to pick my projects, plan my weeks, pool my resources.
There are things that I am discovering about my temperament, my likes and dislikes, that set parameters for what I can or cannot do in any given day. There are retail (read: money-making) projects that are winners, in my opinion, but time, ability, and energy just aren’t there.
The sobering reality is that some things no longer grab me like they once did, so I have to adjust accordingly. I am thinking primarily vocationally, but the rules apply to other segments of life.
I just need to keep active on a daily basis, doing things in manageable time chunks, and working at things that drive and push me (not vice versa). And having an opportunity to chip away at things from a desk–or ultimately perhaps, a wheelchair—brings with it a strong balanced sense of reality.
In the meantime, I am not “retired.” If anything, I am simply “re-loading.”