Sky's the limit as astronomy instructor plans retirement
Doug McCarty knows it’s over – but not in the way he once foresaw it.
The MHCC astronomy instructor, who is retiring this spring after 27 years at the college, said when he was younger, he always saw retirement as a worse thing than as he sees it now: liberating.
“When I was younger, I thought it’s over on some level when you retire,” McCarty said. “But this is a time when I am really excited about the future – more so than I’ve ever been.”
McCarty said he doesn’t have it in his genes to sit back and do nothing, which is something he thinks most people feel is the case when retirement is brought up.
“It’s a good feeling to be able to wake up and say, ‘Well, I don’t have to go to work today,’ but there is so much I want to do,” said McCarty. “When I announced my decision to retire, I knew I’d have a lot of options for keeping busy. Although I’ll be retired full-time, I’ll still be teaching through summer of next year (2010) as a retired faculty.”
Teaching astronomy part-time at MHCC is only a small part of McCarty’s future. He plans on teaching courses at Portland State University with a fellow astronomy instructor, an astro-physicist.
“We’re going to be creating a course called astro-history, which talks about how the universe and everything in it has come about,” said McCarty. “It’s sort of a big picture overview of everything. A lot of history courses are very narrow.”
McCarty said he’s also been asked to work on a project for the Oregon Arts Commission; it will turn out being a non-narrative video, the title of which is “The Intellectual Eco-System.”
“I’ve got a number of multimedia projects I’m working on,” McCarty said. “I’m doing a project at a high school in Beaverton called Cosmic Perspective. I’ll be as busy when I’m retired as I am now, that’s for sure, and if not because of projects, because of my own hobbies.”
One hobby McCarty said he really wants to work on is his musical interests.
“I’ve played guitar my whole life, and would like to get back to taking lessons for percussion,” said McCarty. “I’ve got a friend that lives in the West Hills that I love to jam with and just sort of play whatever. I’d love to be able to perform at some open mics, doing some really fun, old-school blues.”
Aside from continuing to teach astronomy at MHCC and PSU, McCarty said he’d like to get back to teaching philosophy, which he majored in at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
“I’d love to get back into teaching at some point,” said McCarty. “It’s the noblest profession. So maybe I will.”
How McCarty ended up teaching in the first place, he said, is still something of a mystery to him.
McCarty said that as a young boy, “I would never have believed I would have been an astronomy professor. But when I was 11, I really started getting into it. I’ve always thought the secret of life is really just ‘follow your bliss.’ I teach my lifelong hobby, so I’m really lucky to have been able to do this.
“I was just talking to my neighbor, who’s 82 years old and just retired, and he was commenting on how I used to be a really different person,” said McCarty. “I was telling him how I’m excited about the opportunity to grow spiritually, mentally, in all ways, really. I now consider retirement more of a ‘change of course.’ Being able to go on trips with my wife to India and focus on consciousness studies is something I’m really looking forward to as well.”
McCarty said he’d also like to take courses on cinema, adding that MHCC has a “great instructor” for film studies.
“Jonathan Morrow is a guy I would love to take cinema classes from because he knows so much that I want to know. I just want to keep learning when I’m done teaching. I’m just a curious guy.”
After all is said and done, McCarty said, there will still not be much that can top staring up at the sky, as he did when he was 11.
“I’m looking forward to being able to jump into my van, drive out somewhere, stay up all night, and just observe the sky,” said McCarty. “That will be hard to beat, no matter where my retirement takes me. I’ll always have the cosmos.”
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