In our working world, we become used to responding to a variety of tasks and deadlines. What happens in our retirement? We are still geared to tasks and specific timelines. Imagine a situation where two individuals who have structured their lives according to tasks, and deadlines. Suddenly, in retirement, we need to change our behaviour and recognize that living in a rural society, the timelines are driven more by natural cycles. The green beans and the gooseberries need to be picked. The beans have to be blanched, before freezing. The gooseberries turned into jam.
One of the artefacts of task-oriented employment is impatience. There are always additional tasks that arise. We are in a perpetual cycle of motion or uncertainty.
Within the institutional world, we develop an understanding of timelines; the pattern of activity over the year. In the teaching environment, we understand semesters, final examinations, Summer vacation. In the research environment, there is fieldwork, analysis, writing reports and going to conferences. There is also the structure of the research grant: proposals, the research and the deliverables.
Step forward into the future. Imagine, this structure no longer exists. The structure now relates to lives: births, marriages, separations and deaths.
Along with retirement comes the role of ‘elder’. What have we learned from our career? Can we mentor the next generation to address environmental issues? Or the relationship between ‘Man and Nature’? What processes exist so that this knowledge can be applied to current issues in society? How can we change our educational institutions? How can we change our governing institutions?
So often, we hear negative comments about the provincial demographics. Too many retirement-age people. Too many Nova Scotians living a lifestyle of residence in Nova Scotia but working elsewhere in Canada. What will happen when these task-oriented Nova Scotians return home to retire?
Can we envisage a different model? Where those returning to Nova Scotia bring back skills, expertise and understanding that can be applied to future issues in the province?
For example, in my own field ‘Geographic Sciences’ what is the value of knowledge of other geographies? Can we compare and contrast approaches to rural economic development, both within the province, but also across Canada, and at a global level?
The transition from task-oriented thinking (in a working world) to a timeless world (retirement) is universal. Is Nova Scotia, better or less prepared than other jurisdictions? – provinces, countries. Can we position ourselves, ahead of the curve?
Thanks for Edward Wedler for the graphics and Heather Stewart for the inspiration.