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Florida Scott-Maxwell

  • It sometimes looks as though woman would not be woman unless man insisted upon it, since she tends so markedly to be just a human being when away from men, and only on their approach does she begin to play her required role.

  • Making those we love happy sounds innocent as a dove, but it can be as destructive as a lion.

  • Our age is so gregarious that there is at present a marked prejudice against anyone being alone. It is looked down on, and a need to be alone is almost considered a fault, a weakness, as though if one cannot endure — more — enjoy being with other people every minute one is aloof, unreal, and somehow to be pitied.

  • One hardly dares to say that love is the core of the relationship, though love is sought for and created in relationship; love is rather the marvel when it is there, but it is not always there, and to know another and to be known by another — that is everything.

  • We who are old know that age is more than a disability. It is an intense and varied experience, almost beyond our capacity at times, but something to be carried high. If it is a long defeat it is also a victory, meaningful for the initiates of time, if not for those who have come less far.

  • Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My seventies were interesting, and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate. I grow more intense as I age.

  • I feel most real when alone, even most alive when alone. Better to say that the liveliness of companionship and the liveliness of solitude differ, and the latter is never as exhausting as the former.

  • What fun it is to generalize in the privacy of a note book. It is as I imagine waltzing on ice might be. A great delicious sweep in one direction, taking you your full strength, and then with no trouble at all, an equally delicious sweep in the opposite direction. My note book does not help me think, but it eases my crabbed heart.

  • ... love at any age takes everything you've got.

  • No matter how old a mother is she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.

  • She [a mother] never outgrows the burden of love, and to the end she carries the weight of hope for those she bore. Oddly, very oddly, she is forever surprised and even faintly wronged that her sons and daughters are just people, for many mothers hope and half expect that their new-born child will make the world better, will somehow be a redeemer. Perhaps they are right, and they can believe that the rare quality they glimpsed in the child is active in the burdened adult.

  • As I do not live in an age when rustling black skirts billow about me, and I do not carry an ebony stick to strike the floor in sharp rebuke, as this is denied me, I rap out a sentence in my note book and feel better. If a grandmother wants to put her foot down, the only safe place to do it these days is in a note book.

  • My kitchen linoleum is so black and shiny that I waltz while I wait for the kettle to boil. This pleasure is for the old who live alone. The others must vanish into their expected role.

  • Another secret we carry is that though drab outside — wreckage to the eye, mirrors a mortification — inside we flame with a wild life that is almost incommunicable.

  • I wonder if living alone makes one more alive. No precious energy goes in disagreement or compromise. No need to augment others, there is just yourself, just truth — a morsel — and you.

  • ... life is a tragic mystery. We are pierced and driven by laws we only half understand, we find that the lesson we learn again and again is that of accepting heroic helplessness.

  • The crucial task of age is balance, a veritable tightrope of balance; keeping just well enough, just brave enough, just gay and interested and starkly honest enough to remain a sentient human being.

  • You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.

  • Dr. Johnson said that telling one's troubles was asking for pity or praise. ... But it is more than that. You ask to be met at the point of your reality.

  • Admiration is one of the chief delights of living.

  • Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn't do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.

  • Is there any stab as deep as wondering where and how much you failed those you loved?

  • I wonder why love is so often equated with joy when it is everything else as well. Devastation, balm, obsession, granting and receiving excessive value, and losing it again. It is recognition, often of what you are not but might be. It sears and it heals. It is beyond pity and above law. It can seem like truth.

  • Anger must be the energy that has not yet found its right channel.

  • What a boon disparity is — difference of opinion has never been sufficiently appreciated. It is the unexpected, the unknowable, the divine irrationality of life that saves us.

  • ... as we age we are more alive than seems likely, convenient, or even bearble. Too often our problem is the fervor of life within us. My dear fellow octogenarians, how are we to carry so much life, and what are we to do with it?

  • One cannot be honest even at the end of one's life, for no one is wholly alone. We are bound to those we love, or to those who love us, and to those who need us to be brave, or content, or even happy enough to allow them not to worry about us. So we must refrain from giving pain, as our last gift to our fellows.

  • It is not easy to be sure that being yourself is worth the trouble, but we do know it is our sacred duty.

Florida Scott-Maxwell, U.S. writer, suffragist, psychologist, actor

(1884 - 1979)

Full name: Florida Pier Scott-Maxwell.