What happens when the music runs out? Do musicians retire when that happens? Louis Armstrong said that musicians don't retire, they only stop when there is no more music left in them.
Music is a connection between our physical self and our very souls. We feel the music. It reflects our heart. Music with scriptures are hymns. We worship through hymns. The feelings of our heart are conveyed in verbal prayer. Our bodies and faces reflect the images of happiness and sadness, with music opening those feelings. Singing makes us better. Sometimes we sing for what we long for. We use music to help us get by without things wanted.
“Why did the caged bird sing” is a question from Maya Angelou's poem of the same name. It touches on the reality of longing for something better. It shows that what is longed for may have been lost, or perhaps never had.
Why does the Caged Bird Sing
By Maya Angelou
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
Perhaps the caged bird longs for freedom, but without it, the bird still sings. Is longing for something the same as having a passion for it? Do we have to have had experience with freedom, to have to have a passion for it?
Louis Armstrong also said that “What we play is life”.
What is that music? How did that music get to be inside the musician, or others? Is it a song yearning for something, or is it a song celebrating something?
Did the music ever leave Louis Armstrong? Did it ever run out? He never retired, so that answers that. What would leave each of us, and then result in our retiring? Would what we have longed for have gone away, or would we have given up on our passion? It does seem very clear that Louis Armstrong loved the music and for him it never went away. He had a passion for it.
What do we have a passion for? Love, kindness, and passion are what focuses us. They drive us. We lose ourselves in those feelings. They fill our minds, and we have little place for worrying about ourselves.
In the play, Cat’s, which is being released again, the cats all audition for the opportunity to go back and have another life. They feel that it would be good to do that because, as one of the cats said so well in the song "Memory". They had the experience but missed the meaning. They had lived once and wanted another shot. Had the music for life run out in the cats?
Is there any chance that Louis Armstrong would want to come back and have another life. Would he have looked back and felt like he missed the meaning? Of course, not. That one is so easy to answer. We knew his passion. He told us that “what we play is our life”. His playing moved us. We felt it. For him the music was Jazz. For us, what we play can be just what we love. It can be anything we chose, but then we need to feel passionate about it. If your lucky enough to love knowledge and learning, then your indeed blessed. That, like the music for Louis, just never stops being an option.
If your passion is your family, then that too is a blessing. You will always be an example to them. You can always show love and concern.
Many of the liberal arts offer areas that you can find passion for. If you love art, then there is always more. If you love poetry, then you will not reach the end. If you love reading you will never finish.
To love, you need to be comfortable with yourself. You need to forgive yourself. Your life story needs to be well thought through.
What about Louis? Do you think he had a perfect personal life? Do you think he spent his time worrying about missing the meaning in his life? He dropped out of school at 11 and had rough years ahead of him. His mother didn’t have an inspiring occupation. Later he said of himself, that he hardly looked back at his youth as the worst of times, but drew inspiration from those times instead. He said that "Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine—I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans... It has given me something to live for.”
What we have a passion for matters. Yes. musicians don’t retire, as long as they have music in them. Find the music.