Book closed, or new chapter?

 No, this isn't about reading, but ending a long piece of personal history.

I am 49 years old, and have been a part of an organization for 31 years.... nearly 2/3 of my life.

I retired Easter weekend 2021.

Many people are asking me - how does it feel?

I think my answer is actually pretty simple, it feels weird.  I couldn't really figure out why..... but it came to me listening to an actor explain why he was moving on from a specific role that he had been doing his entire adult life, while I was writing my retirement message.  

Some background-

When I walked into the recruiting center at 17 years old, a farm kid from rural British Columbia (Canada), and started the recruitment process.  I had seen many military movies, flying sounded like what I wanted to do.  A number of months later, I took my first airplane trip to Toronto for aircrew selection (just a weeklong aptitude assessment). Hard to believe that the first big flight would be then, before that I had only done a short tourist helo flight (Hells Gate BC) that my grandparents put me on, many years before.

I enrolled a few months after that, showing up at the recruiting center in jeans and a T-shirt.  The 2 others that were there - Mike K, and Ian H, both dressed up in suits and ties.

Anyway, the next 31 years - can be likened to a role that I needed to play.  Like an actor, I had expectations on appearance, dress, and how I carried myself in public.  Now, I don't have those constraints.  That doesn't mean I am going to stray far from that path, but if I wanted to - I could.  Probably keep my hair short - I hate it when it gets too long..... "she who must be obeyed" has already given feedback on a beard attempt.

But the reality is, I now have a new starring role in the screenplay of life.  Grandfather, husband, Veteran, Pensioner, and most interestingly - new rank can be "Mr" (still outranked by "Mrs" as highlighted above).

Talking to many of my Veteran friends, it is similar to the adage - "Can take the boy out of the country, but can't take the country out of the boy", now can read as "The man can leave the military, but the military can't leave the man" (yes, this applies to women too).... I fully expect to be using military terminology for the remainder of my life as the country, military guy.  That should confuse a large number of people.

But the reality is, yes - I am retiring at 49. 
People tell me, "must be nice", but I wonder - would they trade for what I have gone through to achieve this?
Should I list the pieces of the kids lives I missed?  school plays, events, and performances? the times we made them say goodbye to friends and move to the other end of the country?

Here is a video discussion about some of these points.
My retirement message is located - HERE on MY FACEBOOK

Thanks for paying attention.

I look forward to bringing more content across all my channels in the very near future.