Reading about Carmen Herrera, the artist I featured here yesterday who was “found” at age 89 and is still actively painting at 100, brought some thoughts about the idea of retiring to mind. While it’s not something that I dwell on, I am at that age when one begins to think about such things. In the last year or so, at different times I have been asked by a couple of friends who are not artists, one who is my age and is retired, if I was thinking about retiring.
The question kind of surprised me each time I was asked. I mean, I know that it’s a possibility and I do the things that one should do when planning for retirement in a financial sense. But being asked about it caught me off guard.
But giving it some thought made me realize that retirement was not the end point I was shooting for in my life. In fact, I can’t imagine ever retiring from what I do. How could I put aside that thing that has given me purpose, that thing that connects me to this world and gives me expression? Why would I stop searching for answers to questions I haven’t even asked yet?
The whole idea of retiring seems like a foreign concept to me and my life as it has come to be.
In fact, as I’ve gotten older, I find myself looking for more and more time in which I can continue my work. Time has become a more and more precious commodity. Any time spent ill or in pain is time taken from this work so I have began actively working harder at being fit and healthy. I hate giving up time for working out or walking. I would much rather be working but knowing that it is required for continuing my work longer into this life makes this a valuable investment.
Seeing Carmen Herrera at work at 100 years old, even in her wheelchair, and the many other artists who worked into their 80’s and 90’s gives me hope for this idea of never retiring. Looking around the studio, I realize that there is so much more work to be done. Work that I feel I must do. Each day seems to uncover more and more facets to be probed, more questions to answer. There is just not enough time in this life and I am not going to give up until that sun on the horizon leaves and fails to rise the next morning.
So hopefully, if I am lucky enough, you’ll see me several decades down the line, still at work. And happy for it…