Keillor responds to news of his retirement

Garrison Keillor

Today on A Prairie Home Companion’s website, Garrison Keillor updated his blog where he replies to fan questions. This time he took the opportunity to reply to the news this week that he plans to retire in the spring of 2013 (I’ve bolded the lines I think are of particular interest):

I’m in London, walking around under an umbrella with my daughter in hand, looking at fields of yellow and white daffodils, the flower that excited Wordsworth. This morning a reporter rang me up, as they say here, to ask if I am retiring in the spring of 2013, as reported in the papers. There isn’t a simple answer to that. The simple fact is that mortality is a helpful prod that keeps us trotting along, mindful of our place in life, and awakens us to the beauty of spring daffodils (there being fewer springs ahead than behind) and reminds us performers not to hang around too long. There is a point at which people start to worry for you onstage and that’s when you should hang it up. It’s a delicate illusion we create and if we dodder and dither, the game is over. We’ve all seen old gaffers who pushed the public’s loyalty much too far and it’s not a pretty sight. Some performers put out twenty-year-old publicity photos. Mine show a 68-year-old man with bushy gray eyebrows and in some pictures he looks every bit his age. I was 32 when I started “A Prairie Home Companion” and now I’m looking down the road at 80. So what? Big deal. Welcome to the world.

I love this radio show which has been a solid fixture in my bumpy life and I want it to push on bravely into the future with new hosts and a new spirit, and to that end I am planning for the future. The spring of 2013 strikes me as a good time to step quietly into the wings and watch some younger livelier person step out. I am on the lookout for replacements. I hope to keep a gentle paternal connection to the show for years to come and to go on with “The Writers Almanac,” and meanwhile I am looking forward to Nashville on the 26th and then New York and a flowering spring.