Monday, June 27, 2016

Baby Boomers: Choices, Legacy, and My Story

This morning I was browsing through blogs on retirement as I am wont to do lately (yes, I am a planner), and I came across this interesting blog, Sightings Over Sixty, written by Tom Sightings. I read through the blogger's most recent post, Let's Pick a President, and then I started reading some of his most popular posts. I did his handy quiz to determine whether I am ready for retirement, and discovered that no, I am woefully uninformed and therefore not ready for retirement. Hmm.

Then I read another one of his most popular posts, Baby Boomers are the Most Selfish... and it really got me thinking. He starts the post with the following:
    I recently received this anonymous response to one of my blog posts, and it seemed to come out of nowhere:

     "You Baby Boomers are the most selfish generation to ever exist. You destroyed your own children's and grandchildren's future with your short-sighted selfishness and immaturity. And then you expect them to pay for your retirement???? Can you baby boomers just hurry up and drop dead, please!"
Then Tom goes on to imagine how he would feel about the Baby Boomer generation if he were a Gen X'er or Millennial. What was especially interesting about this post were the comments that he received -- 57 of them -- from both Boomers and younger generations. I was surprised by the level of vitriol and blame directed toward the Boomer generation by Gen X'ers and Millennials, who expressed the beliefs that the Baby Boomer generation were horrible parents; that they have made the world a worse place; that they have sold their children down the river economically; and that they have an unpleasant sense of entitlement.

Many of the Boomers writing comments told their personal stories of struggle and hardship that contrasted with the rosy generalizations about Boomers' lives claimed by the younger folks. As I read the 57 comments, I thought about my own life and choices as a middle-of-the pack Boomer, and those of other Boomers I know, and the challenges faced by my kids, all of whom are Millennials.

I'd like to say some things about choices, my own story, and the legacy of the Baby Boomers. Some of these thoughts might have to wait for a separate post on the matter. I am writing, of course, with a Canadian perspective on the topic, which is a little different perhaps than those of the blogger and commenters.

First of all, I remember that when I was a young person, I was very unhappy with the state of the world that had been created by my parents' generation and the generation that preceded them. Perhaps this attitude is typical for young people with critical minds and a desire to make the world a better place. I grew up during the Cold War, with the threat of nuclear annihilation always at the back of our minds. We did bomb drills in school when I was in primary school. Information about the horrors of the Holocaust was being released in dribs and drabs, and it was fresh and raw, and disturbing beyond belief. The northern rural part of Canada where I lived saw many American back-to-the-landers moving in to escape the Viet Nam war, as well as a number of wealthy Americans buying a second property in our remote location, just in case a Third World War did occur.

In the world in which I came of age, there was rampant racism, and in our area it was mostly directed toward Aboriginal people. There were limited opportunities for women, and although the feminist movement had begun elsewhere, everything in our little town was ten years behind the times. I was lucky that my parents believed in education and encouraged me in my aspiration to go to university, even though neither of them had been able to attend university themselves.

In the the world of my youth, the environment was under assault. I lived in a world of DDT, and PCBs, huge dam projects, and clear cut forests. Before I was out of my teens, I was already an environmental activist. I also argued for women's rights, and civil rights, and ending poverty by distributing wealth more equitably. I believed that big money and corporations were a source of many of the world's problems (a belief that I still hold).

As a woman, I fought for the right to have a career. I was among the first generation of of women to "have it all" -- a career, a marriage, and children. It was hard. When I look back now, I don't know where I found the energy.

There were some Baby Boomers who easily slid into well-paying jobs and amassed considerable material wealth. This particularly was the case for leading edge Boomers, those born just after the war, who had many job opportunities.  The economy grew after the war and as many men were lost in the war and women were back in the homes raising families, young Boomers (mostly men) filled the job openings. By the time I had finished my Bachelor's degree at the end of the seventies, jobs were scarce. My two youngest brothers born in 1960 and 1962 were at the tail end of the boom, and had an even greater struggle to find jobs.

My hard-working parents lost their business and almost lost their house during the inflationary spiral of 1981-82. They lived a very frugal life when they were in their sixties as they tried to pay back their debts. I and my siblings helped them financially during those tough years. They both ended up working into their seventies because they had to.

I worked my way through university, living below the poverty line for seven years as I completed a Bachelor's degree and then a graduate degree. I made the pragmatic choice to study a professional field in which I knew that there were many job opportunities. I landed a job in a city far from home, and slowly began to pay back my student loans and save for a down payment on a house. Our first house was an inexpensive old two-bedroom house in a shabby inner city neighbourhood.

Later, I went back to school again and completed another graduate degree. My first husband passed away at a young age, when my children ranged in age from 8 to not quite 2. I was in the probationary phase of a new job at the time. I raised my children as a single mom while working full time. I was fortunate to have a good job that I loved. However, just about every penny that I earned went to child care, the mortgage, and other expenses for quite a few years. Also, the pension plan was not very good. So I scrimped and saved, putting money away into an RRSP (the Canadian equivalent of a 401), and also into education savings accounts for each of my kids so that they would be able to pursue a post secondary education. All three of them have attended university and completed degrees.

As a Baby Boomer, I did not have an easy life, nor did money and jobs come easily. I have always worked very hard and also worked long hours. I realize that this is just my story, and it does not necessarily reflect the whole generational cohort.

I am concerned about the world that we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. My bright, capable, hard-working children have struggled to find meaningful work that pays a living wage. We Boomers might have helped to improve some things (for example: opportunities for women, more recognition of racism and the development of policies and programs that foster inclusive approaches, more supportive perspectives about sexual orientation, bans of DDT and PCBs, the requirement of consultation and environmental review for large scale projects like dams and pipelines), but we are leaving other things in a mess.

The corporations and the very wealthy still have an inordinate amount of control, and their approaches are dominated by profit, not by civic duty or social justice. We are on the brink of a global climate change disaster that is resulting in extreme weather events that impact the poor disproportionately, and that will make the world uninhabitable for humans and many animals if we don't act decisively and soon. Animal species are becoming extinct and the oceans are filling with plastics and pollution. Politically, across the world, we seem to be moving toward an group mentality of anti-intellectualism that discounts reason and expert analysis, and favours fear-mongering and finger-pointing instead.

I am worried. I am putting tremendous hope in the Gen X'ers, Millennials, and Gen Y's to make the world a better place. Many of us Baby Boomers who are still around will be there helping.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

En Plein Air Paint Out

Last month in May, and again this month, I have participated in an en plein air event hosted by our local university. The paint out was held at a rural heritage property, The Coutts Centre, and attracted artists from cities and towns in every direction. 

The Coutts Centre is an oasis in the middle of the prairies. It is located in an area of low rolling hills and affords a vista of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. There are several heritage style barns and outbuildings, and a couple of picturesque low wooden houses. The property is especially known for its extensive gardens: flower gardens, a herb garden, vegetable and berry gardens, a rose garden, and a garden of natural prairie grasses. There are woods with little hidden nooks, fruit trees, a pond, rock walls, a patio, and many art sculptures throughout the property. In short, it is a painter's paradise. 

I am not an experienced plein air painter. Although I began oil painting as a teenager, and have painted from time to time ever since then with multi-year breaks in between, I have only attempted to paint en plein air, outside on location, a few times. So when I signed up for these two paint outs, it was with feelings of both excitement and trepidation. I felt excitement because it is intensely pleasurable to be standing in the landscape painting it - a very different experience than painting in studio. It was also a chance to meet some of the other artists who live in my region and see their work in progress. At the same time, I felt a certain level of trepidation, because plein air painting is difficult: the wind, the bugs, the shifting light, and the way the paint colours look different out in the sun, and how the paint dries so fast. 

This photo below shows my plein air painting in progress at the May paint out.

You can see the beauty (and complexity!) of this scene. I was working on a 20 X 20 inch canvas, which I found was a bit ambitious for one day of painting. In this image, you can see that at the moment I took this photo, the shadows were dancing across my canvas. The sun had moved across the sky from east to west, so all of the shadows I had seen when I composed the painting in the morning were now in different places by late afternoon. Also, the wind blew my easel over three times, and I found myself holding the canvas steady with one hand while I painted. I have brought this one home to complete in the studio, and am still working on finishing it. (I spent several sessions just trying to correct the errors of perspective that you can see here.)

Last weekend, I went to the Coutts Centre for another paint out. I chatted with a number of artists who had been there the previous month, as well as some new folks. It was interesting to see the array of styles and strategies. 

This time, I set up by the pond, in a spot that was well protected from the wind by a copse of trees. This position provided a long view across the pond and lawns toward the main house. Another artist set up across the pond from me, and painted me painting! I, however, did not include any people in my composition. Here is a photo that shows the scene and my set up:

You can really see what a lovely spot it is. You also can see the woman in pink who is painting me. This time I used a smaller canvas, 11 X 14 inches, which was more manageable in the time available. This last photo shows the painting in progress at an early stage:

Although plein air painting is challenging, I have found that I really love it. In my upcoming period of leave from work, I am going to try to do some plein air painting. There are many beautiful locations near where I live, and also we will be travelling this summer. I would like to find some painting companions near home. Maybe I will sign up for another organized event. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Poster Boy for Happy Retirement

My husband Rob likes to describe himself as the poster boy for happy retirement. He retired more than ten years ago, as soon as he qualified for retirement at his workplace, and has never looked back. He truly is a shining example of someone who has achieved a satisfying retirement lifestyle. 

Biking up a big hill.

As I muse about and begin to plan my own retirement timing and process, I have been quizzing Rob about how he made the decision to retire when he did, and whether he felt anxious about it. I didn't know him then; we didn't get together until nearly two years after he retired. 

He tells me that, unlike me, he had no angst about retiring. He was delighted to retire, and has fully embraced and enjoyed the retirement lifestyle ever since. He has never missed his workplace, even though he worked for the same company for more than thirty years. He often tells stories about people and past events at work, but his main orientation is to the present.

There are a number of ways in which Rob and his situation are different from me and my circumstances. For one thing, Rob saw his employment as "work to live" whereas my approach can be described as "live to work." Rob worked in the transportation industry, and his job, although it came with responsibilities and safety concerns, was not highly stimulating. His job did not help him self actualize or define his identity, but rather took time away from the pursuits that were his main interests. When he had an opportunity, he did take on special roles, like shop steward for the union, and health and safety representative. But for the most part, boredom was the defining feature of his job. 

In contrast, although I have a rich and satisfying life outside of work, for most of my career, my job also has been something I have greatly enjoyed. My most recent position has been an exception to this, but in previous years, my job has been so interesting and fulfilling, and such a big part of my identity, that I would have chosen to do certain parts of it even if I was not getting paid. In some ways, it has been the dream job, and I know I have been very lucky. But the very long hours my work has demanded have been problematic and stressful, especially during my most recent administrative role.

Another way in which Rob and I are different is in our characteristic approach to life. Rob lives in the present, enjoys life as it unfolds, and handles troubles as they emerge, whereas I am a planner. I plan our holidays, our visits to friends and family, and the events of our weekends. I have spent a lot of time thinking about and planning each life transition, such as moves, new jobs, and becoming grandparents. I also plan in order to forestall certain predictable troubles - e.g., financial planning. So I suppose it is not surprising that when Rob hit retirement age just at the same time that his daughter graduated from university, it seemed obvious to him that he should take early retirement. He recognized that his work was hard on his health, and he knew he could afford to retire. So why not?

In contrast, I am thinking it through from every angle. Will we be financially secure? Where will we live? What are the advantages and disadvantages of retiring soon, retiring gradually, or postponing the whole thing for awhile? Have I finished with my career, or will I keep a hand in it? What will I do after I retire, and what will we do together? 

Of course, I know that I will love retirement. I will have more time to spend with our grandkids, with friends, and with Rob. I have writing and art projects that I have been deferring for too long. I want to travel, and do more skiing, hiking, camping, gardening, and so forth. I want to become more active in the community. Really, all I have to do is look at Rob and how much he enjoys his time as a retiree to know that retirement will be great, and we will enjoy our time together. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

It All Disappears

As I ponder whether and when to retire, I find my mind turning to the larger existential questions. This fact has taken me by surprise. 

Really, the decision to retire, at first blush, seems like not a big deal at all. A person works throughout life to earn a paycheque and and support herself and her family. Work, in every case, takes the most precious thing we have away from us – time. Some have argued that time is all we have in life, that life is time, and that when we are out of time our life ends. Straightforward, no? Therefore it makes perfect sense that as soon as there is no longer a financial necessity to work for that paycheque, a person should retire and take their time back. 

When I think of it this way, I want to retire right now. I want to paint those pictures, write those poems and novels, hike those trails, and travel to those interesting places. I want to do all of the things that I have been trying to fit into the little leftover corners of time that work and daily life affords me. And I want to spend more time with the people I care about – Rob, my friends, my kids and grandkids, and other family members. 

But wait a minute. I have worked very hard most of the years of my life, and I haven't done it just for the paycheque. Work has been an important part of my life. It has engaged me intellectually, creatively, and socially. Life isn't just time. It's also what one does with the time. In most ways, my work has been an integral and satisfying component of my life for all my adult years. It has been an interesting and important way for me to spend the time I have been granted, and also I have been able to contribute to my workplaces and to society in useful ways, which in itself is satisfying. 

When I think about it this way, I feel a great wave of fear. No, I can't retire! Not yet. Work is my life. Not all of my life, but a very big part of it. Am I really ready to walk away from it, this endeavour that has intrigued me, engaged me, and had me in its clutches since I was sixteen?

But, I argue with myself, work doesn't have to be all or nothing. I have the good fortune to work in education, and to have the choice in my place of work to reduce to part-time or to transition gradually to retirement over a three year period. Also, in my workplace, I have quite a bit of choice over the types of work assignments I take. Theoretically, in a full-time role, I also have the choice to work long hours or more reasonable hours (but, being an A-type high achiever, so far I have never managed to cut back to the number of hours in most people’s normal work week, so I'm not holding out hope for a sudden self-transformation). Also, if I were to quit, I could take on contract work (if I missed my work too much), or carry on with my intellectual work independent of an employer and paycheque. Finally, I could take on volunteer work, or serve on boards or committees. I don't have to stay where I am, working full time, and feeling the obligation that comes with a full time job and a paycheque. 

Another interesting notion has occurred to me as I prepare to step down from my current role as administrator. As I begin to plan my transition out of the role and a move to a different smaller office, I wonder what I am going to do with all of the files I have accumulated during my four years in this job. There is an over-stuffed four-drawer filing cabinet, and most of a bookcase full of files that pertain to the position I am leaving. Then there are the thousands, or maybe hundreds of thousands of electronic files. Do I just pitch them? Will they be of any use to anyone? 

This is the material manifestation of the problem. But the real problem is that a great deal of the knowledge is in my head. As I walk out of the job, that knowledge goes with me. The new person, my replacement, will have to do their own learning, identify their own priorities, and invent their own way of working. Just like that, pfffffft, all that I have strived so hard to learn and do just disappears and becomes only a memory. And memories are ephemeral. I guess the exception to this is that those bits of my work that have been reified within a system, program, or someone else's practice or thinking will not be completely lost. There will be a small trace. 

This is also the problem of our lives. When we die, all that we have learned, all of our knowledge and skills, die with us. I hadn't really thought about this much before. It makes me wonder, why have I tried so hard to amass knowledge and to perfect skills? Just like material goods, we can't take it with us. And what's in our heads isn't even left for others. It all disappears. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Early Year for Planting

This Mother's Day weekend, I had the opportunity to do quite a bit of gardening. Every spring, I look forward to getting out into the vegetable garden to dig and plant. As I have written about before, I have two tiny patches in the backyard, one for berries, and one for veggies. The previous owners landscaped the yard with shrubs and perennials, but I have reclaimed these two spaces for my annual food growing activity. 

I use a square foot gardening method to maximize the productivity of the tiny garden. The photo below shows how the food garden looked after my efforts this weekend.

In the foreground, there are chives and onions. This corner of the garden gets little sun, but the onion sets I put in about mid-April are thriving. Behind the chives are tomato transplants (the dependable Early Girl, and Lemon Boy, a new experiment). I have never, ever put my tomatoes in before June 1, anywhere that I have lived in Canada (except possibly when I had a greenhouse). 

I have also planted basil transplants and pole beans. This is very early to be planting tomatoes, beans and basil where I live, hardiness zone 4b. The rule of thumb here is to plant on the 24th of May weekend, and to expect frost on Labour Day. I also have planted from seed spinach and lettuce (mid-April), and carrots (today).

In this photo you can see the herbs that have returned from last year: parsley, savoury, thyme, sage, and oregano. In the little triangular garden in the back against the fence, the raspberries, rhubarb, and strawberries are thriving. Because I have so little garden space, I plant potatoes in potato bags and set them around the patio. I have started the potatoes in their bags, but they are not visible in this photo. 

We also have flower beds. I have a perennial bed at the front of the house and also a raised bed that the annual flowers share with potentilla and spirea bushes. Yesterday, Rob and I filled it with wave petunias and a few transplants of some strange orchid-like flower I have never seen before. 

The natural soil here is heavy prairie clay. I compost, and use it to augment the soil. For the yard waste component of the compost, I am very careful to use only leaves and grass, etc., from our own yard. Many people here seem to use herbicides and neonicotinoids indiscriminately, whereas I garden organically. I also have purchased bags of sand, manure, and organic black soil most years. 

Gradually the soil in the food gardens has become deeper, looser, and richer. The flower gardens get short shrift, though, as by time I get around to thinking about augmenting the soil, it is too late -- the perennials are already up, and we have already planted the petunias. 

I might have stayed in the garden a little longer this afternoon, but the thunder was rolling overhead. The wind was roaring through the trees and blowing things around the yard. Now, an hour later, the wind is still blowing hard, but the thunderstorm seems to have passed over. A slight misty rain is falling, barely enough to dampen the ground. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Big Six Oh

What is it about turning sixty? I and a number of my friends will reach this dreaded age this year. It seems to be a particularly tough birthday for several of us. I have already passed several significant birthdays: 
50 (half a century!); 
40 (middle age!); 
39 (last year to be a thirty-something); 
30 (joining the over-thirty crowd, definitely not cool); 
21 (a legal adult, everywhere in North America)
19 (voting and and drinking age, in British Columbia)
16 (not that sweet)
But 60 is different somehow. 

I was just in Vancouver, where I got together with a dear friend for an early birthday celebration. She turns 60 next week, and is not at all happy about it. I asked her why she was finding this birthday to be such a difficult one. She said, "because it means I am f*ing old!"

I asked Rob, who turned sixty a few years ago, whether he had found it hard to turn sixty. He said, "no, not at all." The reason why, he explained, was that the collapse of his first marriage a number of years earlier created such a huge and traumatizing change in his life that a little thing like a particular birthday meant nothing in comparison. 

I also have had a traumatizing a life-altering experience in my past, but it hasn't softenened the big six-oh transition for me. Rob is a pretty mellow person, not given to hand-wringing and introspection. He lives each day as it comes along. That might be why he doesn't stress about birthdays. 

I think that the reason that 60 (and similarly 65) is difficult for many of us is that it marks a time of significant transition in our lives. For me, from age 25 to now, I have been focused on having and raising my kids, and on my career. Much else has taken a backseat to those two dominating priorities. Although it has not been a straight, smooth path, nevertheless my focus on these two things has been consistent. But now I am having to make significant decisions about my life path, and indeed, about the rest of my life.

Suddenly, as I turn 60, I have discovered that my focus and priorities are changing. My youngest has graduated from university, and although he has lived with us for this past year, he is starting his first career-related job and soon things will be changing for him. 

I have made the decision to resign from my administrative role and to take up a different, less stressful and less time-intensive position at my place of work. As well, two months from now, I will be taking a lengthy leave before transitioning into that other role. This marks a significant change in my career "ladder-climbing." In essence, I have decided that I will not be pursuing further career progression. This represents a large attitudinal shift from my aims over the last 35 years. 

As I move toward stepping down from my role and the leave from work, my mind is turning to the next step, actual retirement. I am thinking about all the projects and life goals that I have been deferring for so long, because my work has dominated so much of my time and attention, not to mention also raising a family. When am I going to finish writing those novels, or really get into painting, if not soon? There isn't that much time left.

Breaking my foot last Fall has made me realize that deferring some things for much longer may mean that they will never happen. For example, my foot, although healed, is still giving me a lot of pain. Does this mean that my days of backpacking and long hikes is over? Speaking of that, when am I going to go heliskiing, river rafting, and to Machu Pichu? Sixty is a wake up call. 

I have a friend whose long and successful career is coming to an end, not because she was ready to retire but because a reorganization of her workplace now has made retirement seem to be the most appealing option for her. I have another friend who just turned sixty who has sold her longtime business, has begun travelling to many interesting parts of the world, and has started writing a book. Yet another friend who is turning 60 has made the decision to resign from her part-time teaching position and is trying to decide when to step away from her clinical practice to begin full retirement. 

While I muse about retirement, time keeps marching on. My grandchildren are having birthdays, and I live far away from them. They will only be toddlers for a short time. Our friends are growing older, and some are losing their health, and some have died. 

Sixty is just a number. But in our decimal system based on ten, it marks a decade. The decade of one's sixties is the decade of the culmination of career, leaving the work world, and taking stock of life. In turning sixty, one enters the late stage of life, a chance to review what it means to have a good life, and a final chance to decide whether there are still some other components or tasks yet to be completed in our individual projects of making a meaningful life. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Becoming Irrelevant

Aging is a process of becoming irrelevant. It happens over a long time, perhaps a whole lifetime. But it is now, as I am entering my senior years, that it is beginning to become apparent to me, and it is not a happy discovery.

Throughout my career, I have been such a hardworking person, striving to accomplish more every day than was truly possible. I have been motivated by new and more difficult challenges. I have moved up the career ladder, struggling with and then mastering each new set of expectations. I have climbed a mountain and arrived at the top, sweaty, aching and exhausted, only to discover the next mountain beyond that one. This has happened again and again, and has defined my working life. 

Now I have finally reached the last peak. I am stepping away from the career trajectory that I have been on since I went off to my first year of university. It has been hard to let go, and hard to accept that this is it. All that I am going to accomplish in my career has already happened. 

That sounds pathetic. But for me it has been a sad and bitter realization. I have always set very high expectations for myself. Although I never thought I had it in me to become a Piaget or an Einstein, deep in my heart I did think that I was capable of some pretty great achievements. I didn't get there. I have had a good career, and I have made useful contributions. But not great, not outstanding. 

So it took me a long time to decide to step away from my position and my upward striving. Choosing to begin moving towards retirement has meant coming to terms with the fact that this great big career project I have been toiling at, and that I have devoted most of the days of the most productive time of my life to, is over. It's over and there is, as it turns out, not much to show for it. 

Strangely, now that my decision has been made and there are only two and a half months left in my job, I have discovered that I can't even remember what I thought was so important about my job. I wish I could walk away from it tomorrow, and never go back through that door. Yet only six months ago, I was working eleven or twelve hours days most days, and everything I was doing seemed so necessary and critical. Work was so all encompassing that when I broke a bone in my foot last Fall, I couldn't even find time to rest and put my foot up and the bone failed to heal. 

Just as I have been discovering that my work is not so important after all, many of my colleagues and staff members, now that they have found out that I won't be in my role much longer, have begun to treat me as irrelevant. It is understandable. I won't be around to see projects through to completion. There is no point in me starting new things as soon there will be a new boss in my place, and that person will have different ideas and ways of working. In the meantime, they have to form alliances and new ways of working together. My leaving creates a power vacuum and an opportunity for each of them to position themselves differently within the organization. 

I have seen this happen to colleagues before. It is the dead duck administrator phenomenon. The person leaving loses their ability to influence others and to effect change. The people around them experience a period of shifting relationships and alterations in how they do things. I was expecting that it likely would happen to me. 

What I didn't anticipate is how painful it would feel. My closest team leaders are kind and respectful, but although they try not to show it, they no longer really have time for me with all their responsibilities and frenetic work lives. It is strange and sad to realize that most collegial relationships exist to be primarily in service to the maw of work tasks and deadlines. Some other colleagues, the office bullies and the very ambitious seem to be wanting to make sure that I am aware that I didn't matter to the organization anyways. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Ouch, that hurts. To some others, I am now suddenly invisible, and my insights unnecessary. 

And then there are those good, decent colleagues who treat me the same way that they always have. I am so grateful for these people. For them, my knowledge and skills have not evaporated just because I will be leaving soon. And for them, the human relationship supersedes the pragmatic utility of the relationship or the authority of the role. 

Although I have focused this piece on work, I believe that this insight about my own increasing irrelevance will hold for the aging process in general. Once I am no longer of use to them, contributing to society and caught up in the culture of the workplace, I will become irrelevant to most people. As an older person, unless I fight it by finding ways to contribute and to have a voice, I will begin to exist on the margin of society.

Quite a few gloomy thoughts. 

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