Musicians don't retire

Most people go through life focused on retirement as the culmination of all their life’s work, the ultimate destination.  “When I retire” and the so called post-retirement “bucket list” of all the things that we will finally be able to do, are our prime motivators.  We are prepared to put up with everything to get to this goalpost.  I can recall the early start to my working days when we used to dream and talk of “Freedom Fifty-Five.”  How incredibly gullible we were, expecting to transform our lives by age fifty-five into everything a man could ask for.  Today I wonder where those years have gone and what freedom really means, but will readily concede that the journey itself has been challenging, fun and very satisfying.

First though, I must contend with another issue.  At school, I did not pay too much attention to the study of English, learning the language by rote and fudging my way through grammar classes.  Basically, I had no patience for, or appreciation of things like syntax and idioms etc., that help with the construct of this language.  But, just like a music lover can enjoy a song without knowing how to compose music, I love this language without really knowing its technical intricacies.  For instance, I have no idea what a morpheme is or how a word like “RETIRED” is structured.

It is my understanding that when we use the suffix “re” it is to describe something that occurs again for instance, recur, replay, rerun or repeat etc.  On a different note, when we say, “I am tired,” it usually implies that I am fatigued, weary, losing patience and/or interest, or getting bored etc.

Yet, we are quite happy to conjoin the suffix “re” with the word “tire” and use “retire” to define an end to a period of toil and the start of peace and tranquility!  After plodding through our working life would we be happy to repeat this exhausting experience by “Re-tiring” ourselves?  While I am ready to retire, this is certainly not my intent.

However, I am perfectly happy with the use of the suffix “re” as in “rejuvenate,” because this is what I am looking forward to, after having worked for over four decades.  Each of us has our own “bucket list” of things to do.  Call me lazy, but my holiday or life after work is best described by adverbs rather than verbs.  It is not the action itself, but rather the emotions associated with the outcome of an action that I look forward to.

Music is life, it is often said; that’s why our hearts have beats.  Perhaps that is why Louis Armstrong had said, “Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them.”

The eminent Urdu poet Hasrat Mohani describes his retirement as follows:

“Ma.alūm hai duniyā ko ye ‘hasrat’ haqīqat

ḳhalvat meñ vo mai-ḳhvār hai jalvat meñ namāzī”

[The world knows this reality/condition of “Hasrat” (pen name of the poet)

In retirement/solitude he is a wine drinker, while maintaining an appearance of one who is pious]

10 Replies to “Musicians don't retire”

  1. Beautifully put. As someone said, we are called human beings for a reason. But we spend much of our lives hurtling from one deadline to another, becoming human ‘doings’ in the process. More of us should take the time to be, to sit back, reflect, and enjoy.


  2. One retires from a job, not from a calling, not from a passionate drive to connect with people in very meaningful ways. From this perspective, Pankaj, I don’t see you retiring anytime soon.


  3. Not retire. Retreaded!

    Born and grew up in India. Tires don’t get discarded. They get retreaded giving them a new lease on life!

    Congratulations on being retreaded! Enjoy!


    1. Lafzon ko phool banaanaa to karishma hai Faraz (in the context of my favorite poet Ahmad Faraz.) You can craft them well, too! Thanks, Nick for all your support.


  4. I can just imagine Pankaj, you enjoying your retired life to the fullest. Doing everything on your bucket list and enjoying your music and books in your leisure time. You will live it to the fullest and maybe we can learn from you.


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