On Retirements

Playing Seriously
with the Work of Growing Old

Jon Barnard Gilmore

 

Precise, practical, poetic, and powerful  
These are just four of many superlatives that could be used to describe — but which would only begin to describe — the artistry and crystal-clear insight of Jon Barnard Gilmore’s new book. For this is a book like no other, on a subject that millions of people will be “registering” to study as our population ages.

As will prove true for so many readers, retirement for Gilmore has led to a series of surprises, by turns sobering and joyful.

As a professor of Psychology, with many more years of teaching ahead of him before he would turn sixty-five, Gilmore was surprised to find himself falling in love with the Kootenay region of British Columbia following a chance encounter during a long drive to California. He was also surprised, a few years later, to find himself bidding on property there and then applying for early retirement from his teaching position.

Kaslo, B.C., was where he thought he would live year-round. But divorce — a further surprise — and a new relationship have meant that he now divides his time between two regions of startling beauty: his B.C. home and the Caledon hills near Toronto.

Perhaps most surprising to Gilmore has been his discovery that the real work of any life begins when we retire: that retiring consists of a series of personal and relational tasks through which we might achieve a better understanding of ourselves, and of our past, present, and future.