You Won’t Always Have This: On Hayao Miyazaki’s Retirement

Hayao Miyazaki

Last week, Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement. If you don’t know him by name alone he is known for such films as Ponyo, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and many many more. His work is usually 2D or hand drawn animation, a type of animation considered a dying breed at least here in the U.S., sadly.

But, we always manage to get ourselves into the seats where Miyazaki is concerned.

What stuck with me in this news was Miyazaki stating that his health is waning and he’s not able to commit the level of attention and concentration that he could in his earlier years. I encourage you to read some of the transcript or watch the video where he speaks in his own words

That is something we all have to face, that fact that you won’t be able to do the things you once did anymore. Those who live their lives expressing their talents as artists, in sports, dance, music, etc, feel it especially. We live our lives almost in tribute to our art. She is our mistress, she is our wife. And when we can’t go on expressing our love for it anymore, for many of us it’s heartbreaking.

Like Marion Bartoli. While there is speculation that she may come back, this summer Marion Bartoli, just 28 years old, retired from her tennis career and it wasn’t for waning love of the sport.

“I can’t permit myself to do things halfway; I never was like that,” she said. “It becomes an ordeal when I can’t even really walk because I have so much pain in my Achilles tendon, or I have so much pain my shoulder or my rib or in my lower back that I can’t even serve after one set. It all means that at a certain point, the body has its limits and I went past them. I was obliged to do so many times to make it, and I achieved the most beautiful goal of my life, my career. And now it’s time to move on to other things.” – Marion Bartoli, [from New York Times: End of the Road for Marion Bartoli]

You won’t always have the health you have now, the stamina to work long hours on your projects, the ease with which you can move parts of your body or your senses. You won’t always have this. And because the way your body moves right now is so familiar to you, like me you aren’t even aware that it is is a gift, until a sprained wrist, a back ache, you hurt your eye and it’s gone. Sometimes for just a couple of days. If we’re lucky.

So enjoy it. I’m not saying all this to tell you to overexert yourself. That is the quickest way to run your body into the ground. That will happen eventually. But, I’m saying that in this now be aware of the ease with which you’re living your talent. How some of you don’t have to second guess how to move your hand because it hurts when you move it that way, that you can work in low light, or through a pain or into the late hours of the night finding yourself still awake in the daylight and able to make it to school or work in a couple hours. Be grateful for it. Be aware of it. Make the most of it. And show what you’ve done with it so we’ll appreciate it just as much as we have Hayao Miyazaki.

Here is a really nicely put together tribute to Studio Ghibli, an animation studio co-founded by Hayao Miyazaki by TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] done last year.

Happy Wednesday.