Ever since I retired several years ago, I have been pondering about what I should be prioritizing and spending my time on as I head into the so-called “golden” years of my life. I had always thought that once I went on pension, I would have plenty of time and flexibility to pursue many things that I had put aside during my working years. Between a busy working career, the raising of three kids, and the challenges and demands of being deeply engaged in the Ukrainian community, I was always pressed for time and running on overdrive. I always figured that once I passed the retirement threshold, things would be different, and my life would become more serene and manageable.
Well, to be honest, getting to that place of serenity has turned out to be far more of a challenge than I expected. Until the last few months, there had been little discernable change in the pace of my life and the stresses associated with it. A primary reason for that has been the fact that it has proven to be more complicated than I thought for me to disentangle myself from the many offices I held on the boards and executives of various Ukrainian organizations. A good chunk of my life has been defined by my deep involvement with many Ukrainian causes and organizations, so that by the time I retired, I was involved in seven different organizations, mostly in senior positions of responsibility. It has taken me two years to pare that down to three, and my aim is to get that down to one over the next year. This last remaining commitment, which I would like to keep pursuing for the indefinite future as my health and mental acuity permits, is to keep on writing this column for this paper.
This does not imply that I have any regrets about having been so actively involved in the UCU, UNF, UCC, CUF, UNYF and all those other fine institutions that have played such an important role in keeping the Ukrainian community in Canada strong and vibrant. It is merely a reflection of the fact that there is a time for all things, and I have reached an age where it is both appropriate and wise to leave the running of things to a younger generation with fresh ideas and more abundant reserves of energy and motivation. It brings to mind how I felt many decades ago when I first locked horns with the older leadership generation of the UNF system, thinking how out of touch they were then with the youth coming of age and wanting to chart a different course than what had driven them. I was determined that when I reached their age, I would never be an impediment to the hopes and ideas of follow on generations.
There is also a bit of a selfish reason for wanting to step away from organizational responsibilities. Dealing with Ukrainians on any kind of organizational or administrative level is not easy. A lifetime of experience has taught me that perhaps Ukrainians tend to be more stubborn, argumentative, contrarian, individualistic, prone to factionalism, and uncompromising than most other ethnic groups. I think several decades of working within that environment has earned me some rest and reprieve from the inherent stresses. It also causes me to respect and honour all those who continue to occupy positions of responsibility within the Ukrainian community and are willing to endure the demands for the sake of the cause.
Which brings me back to planning what I will do with my time as I recapture a little more control of my time and priorities. Part of that is already determined for me, as I find myself in the enviable state of being a grandfather to two delightful youngsters who will become increasingly exposed to my eccentric influence and company. I will also be able to finally tackle a long list of domestic to-do’s that have been growing over the years, as well as devote more time to my photographic and woodworking hobbies. Then too, there is the long talked about plans for travelling and exploring this wondrous world we live in with my patient and long-suffering wife.
What I am looking forward to the most though, is to devote some serious time to my lifelong passion for writing. As mentioned earlier, I will continue to inflict my weekly musings to this newspaper’s loyal readers. I also need to finish two books I currently have in progress, as well as three more that are rumbling around in my head, and for which I have been doing research and collecting materials for many years. I have always thought that my talent for writing exceeded my talent for management and leadership, and now I hope to have the time to test that hypothesis.
For many people, growing old and retiring is a time of uncertainty and sometimes depression, caused by a loss of purpose and uncertainty of what to do next. I have been blessed with the fact that I need not worry on either of those counts. As one poet once put it:
But I have
promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.