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Artists Don’t Retire

As Picasso remarked, “Every child is born an artist. The trick is remaining one as an adult.” Passion, commitment, and most of all, the courage to be a beginner, are the qualities that it takes—and qualities that are well within our grasp.
Recently I had dinner with an artist friend. Now sixty-seven, he still works daily as a writer, radio personality, and teacher. The conversation wandered to my current writing and my musing on the subject of retirement.
“Artists don’t retire,” he said simply.
It’s true. Tom Meehan, at eighty-three, had two musicals on Broadway in one season. Today, at eighty-six, he has a new show in the works. Roman Totenberg, an esteemed violinist and teacher, taught—and performed—until his final days, well into his nineties. Frank Lloyd Wright passed on at ninety-one with an unfinished building standing in Oak Park, Illinois. B. B. King toured until six months before his death, at age eighty-nine. Oscar Hammerstein II lived until he was only sixty-five, but just long enough to see The Sound of Music open on Broadway. His final song, “Edelweiss,” was added to the show during rehearsal.
What do we all have to learn from this? Self-expression is something that does not—and should not—ever stop. Each of us is creative. Each of us has something unique to bring to the world. We have both time and experience on our side. Retirement is a time to tackle projects and unlock dreams, a time to revisit the past and explore the unknown. It is a time to design our future.

from It's Never Too Late to Begin Again


7 Comments on "Artists Don’t Retire"

  1. Jo Hoffmann says:

    Im wanting to complete my memoirs….would this help?

  2. Cynthia Alden says:

    What a terrific ‘coincidence, ‘ this Sept. posting of yours…just as, @ 70, I’m beginning The Artist’s Way 12 wk class, for the first time ever! I could feel silly to be doing this- I’m not seeking something life-changing in the same way I searched earlier in my life, tho’ I’ll be delightfully surprised w/even a tiny spiritual transformation. I’m doing this because I want to & I can.

  3. Because the process is so joy-filled, who would want to retire? In the doing of art, we feel alive, fulfilling our purpose, and contributing to others via our sharing.

    Thanks Julia for all that you’ve shared. I’ve read, reread, and re-listened to [The Artist’s Way, The Right to Write, The Writing Life, and Vein of Gold] at different points in my journey.

  4. Dear Julia, your book continues to change my life.

    I am on week 4 now and it’s getting more challenging every week. The weekly tasks are so deceptively simple yet they seem to press all kinds of buttons. I find myself much more sensitive to my needs and stronger to the outside world – if that makes sense.

    I have been writing the morning pages every day and sometimes I get nothing and most times I get a feeling of relief. Like exercise, every session adds up as I feel I am creating much more than I ever have and writing 500-800 words seems much easier, less daunting and almost thrilling.

    Never having dreamt of being a writer, I feel I am on the way, with the Creators blessing. Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself, my abilities and a greater power.

    Sending you warm hugs from sunny Kosovo, Chirag S.

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