Special contribution by Françoise Duranleau
Nearly seven years ago I retired at age 60. I always enjoyed teaching. However dealing with the administrators had become unbearable because of recent changes in the school board and an all-female administration. I stopped teaching in the middle of the school year and I had been counting the days until my 60th birthday and retirement.
Ten years before retirement I developed a new hobby and passion – mineralogy. It involved going out on weekly excursions in mines and quarries to collect crystallized minerals. These minerals then needed to be cleaned, trimmed, sorted and identified with the naked eye or under the microscope. In order to gain access to collecting sites and information about all the activities involved in mineralogy, I joined a mineral club. A few years later I became a member of two other clubs. This allowed me to meet hundreds of people from all walks of life. I became good friends with mine workers and experts in mineralogy who wrote scientific articles on the subject.
To pursue my passion I travelled to Nova Scotia where I became a guide to other Quebecers who wanted to look for minerals on the beaches of the Bay of Fundy. I camped there for periods extending up to three months. I also travelled to Ontario, New York, California, Texas, Maine, New Hampshire, Florida and Arizona, always with the purpose of finding minerals. I contacted various mineral clubs in those places and collected in mines and quarries with members of the local mineral clubs. I also visited several museums with extensive mineral collections.
My age has not yet become a problem in pursuing this activity I walk for long distances and carry considerable weight in backpacks. Now I use a walking stick on the rocky beaches of the Bay of Fundy. Before retiring, I felt that my new hobby had completely taken over my life and that my work was getting in the way. Therefore I had two reasons to look forward to retirement: getting away from a disagreeable work environment and devoting my new free time to mineralogy.
I have always been very adventurous. This hobby of mine has opened new avenues and brought new friends that share my passion. It has opened doors to a whole new field of knowledge which was foreign to me. I subscribe to two magazines on the subject and I trade information and specimens with friends as far away as Australia. It is a universal hobby that can provide opportunities for establishing enduring relationships with people all over the world especially if one is willing to make the new contacts. It also creates bridges between age groups where children can be enticed by old collectors to embrace this hobby which will keep them ‘physically active’ and ‘intellectually stimulated’. These two points are also very important as you reach the age of retirement. Mineralogy has kept me away from the couch and rocking chair. It has also helped to keep my mind active by forcing me to remember minerals and localities.
In spite of the uncertain economy and the financial challenges of surviving on a reduced income I plan to pursue this hobby as long as my legs will carry me. I can control the difficulties and will tackle only what I am able to do. I remember seeing in the Mont Saint-Hilaire quarry very old collectors using canes to get around, but they still carried the fire in them for mineralogy. Only a very serious illness stops us. In any case, once you have reached the age of retirement, you begin to lose family and friends usually to illnesses. It makes you realize that every day is precious and should be enjoyed as if there was no tomorrow. Mineralogy has allowed me to do just that.
Passions are the motor of one’s life at any age and if you have none, you are in trouble even before retirement. Your passion gives shape and colour to your life. Before retirement, take stock of your passions and have the courage and audacity to pursue one or more with more vigour than before. It can guarantee your physical and mental health.
For those of you who are retired or are contemplating retirement I will leave you with this inspiring quote:
“Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times” – Anon