Saturday, Oct 01, 2016
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Opinion

My thanks to you as a new life calls

This is my last column for The Blade - and wow, those were weird words to type.

I'm nowhere near old enough to "retire" - not actuarially, not psychologically - but then again, I have no plans to work elsewhere in the news biz, so after 16-plus years as a columnist I don't

really know what to call this.

"Something new," I guess.

Let's call it that.

I do know I put off writing this column all week, probable evidence of my reluctance to give it up.

But like many other people, I suspect, I've long had notions, ideas, and daydreams about other plans, projects, and interests.

So I don't think of leaving The Blade as giving something up, but rather turning toward something else.

The best part of my job - any newspaper job, I think - is meeting people you would never otherwise so much as cross paths with, let alone talk with for hours.

It always dumbfounds me, the way just showing up on a front porch with a notebook so often means someone opens the door and lets you into their house, into their life.

The worst part of my job, meanwhile, was always walking away.

Walking away from people whose lives or work are inspiring, from people who need help, or just an ear.

But those of us with notebooks aren't supposed to change things, just record them.

And now, after nearly 26 years in the news biz, I think I want off the sidelines.

I don't yet have anything lined up, so I can't tell you what exactly I'll be doing.

But I can say this: There's something else, something about my stage of life, that makes me wonder if I'm ill-suited to continue as a columnist:

The older I get, the less certain I am. Of everything.

In my middling-late 30s when I started writing this column, I was armed with equal parts enthusiasm and certainty.

The enthusiasm remains. My certainty doesn't. If something now arouses my disagreement, I usually find myself thinking:

"Well, maybe they have something there. Maybe I should give this some more consideration."

(OK, I never think that about FOX News, but the point still stands.)

Perhaps this inclination to listen more and speak less makes me easier to live with (you'd have to ask my husband), but it also risks milquetoast columns that sputter into "on the one hand, on the other hand" conclusions.

In any case, the time feels right for change.

But I cannot leave without expressing my gratitude. My thanks to everyone who

wrote all those "atta girls"; sent all the hate mail; called to say how much you liked a column; called to say how much you didn't; fed me hot insider tips, and threw me off the trail with dud half-truths.

But most of all, thank you sincerely for telling me your stories, and for reading mine.

Such fun we had.

Roberta de Boer has been a columnist for The Blade since 1993.

Contact her through Friday at:

roberta@theblade.com

or 419-724-6086.

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