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Aging

  • ... the real evidence of growing older is that things level off in importance ... Days are no longer jagged peaks to climb; time is a meadow, and we move over it with level steps.

  • Growing old is like riding in a train: we seem to sit still while the landscape moves by.

  • I feel as if the moment of ripeness had arrived, and I must busy myself picking up the fruit and polishing it and heaping it up in beautiful pyramids.

  • Age is a slowing down of everything except fear.

  • As he resigned himself to the acidiae of mortal illness, he was beginning to acquire the foibles of old age: a liking for a small treat, a fussiness about routine, a reluctance to bother with even his oldest acquaintances, an indolence which makes even dressing and bathing a burden, a preoccupation with his bodily functions. He despised the half-man he had become, but even this self-disgust had the querulous resentment of senility.

  • ... egoism is in general the malady of the aged; ... we become occupied with our own existence in proportion as it ceases to be interesting to others.

  • In our long and obsessive passion for youth, we have — more than any other modern society — avoided direct approach to age and to dying by denying them in word, in fact, and — above all — in worth.

  • ... to grow old is to have taken away, one by one, all gifts of life, the food and wine, the music and the company. ... the gods unloose, one by one, the mortal fingers that cling to the edge of the table.

  • We Americans, with our terrific emphasis on youth, action, and material success, certainly tend to belittle the afternoon of life and even to pretend it never comes. We push the clock back and try to prolong the morning, over-reaching and over-straining ourselves in the unnatural effort. ... In our breathless attempts we often miss the flowering that waits for afternoon.

  • It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The reverse is true. As one grows older one climbs with surprising strides.

    • George Sand,
    • 1868, in Marie Jenney Howe, ed., The Intimate Journal of George Sand ()
  • It is important to remember that these are your Declining Years, in which you can jolly well decline to do what you don't feel like doing, unless not doing it would make you feel worse than doing it.

  • I suppose it is a law of nature that the horizon should lower as we climb down the hill of life ...

  • ... she's just been pointed one way all her life, and going one way, and now she's getting nearer the end of the road, she's pointed sharper and she's going faster.

  • I often think when a man's once past a certain age, the older he grows the tougher he gets, and women the same or more so.

  • I must be getting old ... People are beginning to tell me I look so young. They never tell you that when you are young.

  • The same old charitable lie, / Repeated as the years scoot by, / Perpetually makes a hit — / 'You really haven't changed a bit!'

  • Growing old is not a thing to watch. It cannot be forgiven in others. Alone, it can be borne. Even indulged.

  • We had the problem of age, the problem of wishing to linger. / Not needing, anymore, even to make a contribution. / Merely wishing to linger: to be, to be here.

  • Dawn comes slowly but dusk is rapid.

    • Alice B. Toklas,
    • 1960, in Edward Burns, ed,. Staying On Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas ()
  • What we've done, it seems to me, is allow women to get older, but not to age.

  • There is nothing funny about aging: It is rotten and depressing. Anyone who tells you otherwise just hasn't been paying attention.

  • It is better to wear out than to rust out.

  • If cynicism is inevitable as one ages, so is the yearning for innocence. To children heaven is being an adult, and to adults heaven is being children again.

  • ... I don't know why so much nonsense about age is written — although I can certainly understand that no one really wants to read anything that says aging sucks.

  • Time deals gently with me; and though I feel that I descend, the slope is easy ...

  • The very phrase, 'growing old,' is a contradiction. Old age sets in only when there is no longer any growth of mind or personality. As long as we are learning, developing, contributing, producing or enjoying, we are maturing, whether we are sixteen or ninety-six. We become old when we are no longer capable of improvement, regardless of calendar years.

  • The nearer I come to the end of my days, the more I am enabled to see that strange thing, a life, and to see it whole ...

  • Old age was growing inside me. It kept catching my eye from the depths of the mirror. I was paralyzed sometimes as I saw it making its way toward me so steadily when nothing inside me was ready for it.

  • Age wins and one must learn to grow old ... I must learn to walk this long unlovely wintry way, looking for spectacles, shunning the cruel looking-glass, laughing at my clumsiness before others mistakenly condole, not expecting gallantry yet disappointed to receive none, apprehending every ache or shaft of pain, alive to blinding flashes of mortality, unarmed, totally vulnerable.

  • I have discovered that there is a crucial difference between society's image of old people and 'us' as we know and feel ourselves to be.

  • Dread of one's own aging leads to fear and dislike of old people, and the fear feeds upon itself. In Western society this cycle of dread has been going on a long, long time.

  • The aging aren't only the old; the aging are all of us.

  • To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.

  • The fear of aging, a commonplace neurosis, does not usually wait for age and spares neither sex.

    • Colette,
    • "Beauties" (1928), Journey for Myself ()
  • The stereotype of aging as a progressive loss of function is generally true only for people who stop functioning.

  • It is my feeling that as we grow older we should become not less radical but more so. I do not, of course, mean this in any political-party sense, but rather in a willingness to struggle for those things in which we passionately believe. Social activism and the struggle for social justice are often thought of as the natural activities of the young but not of the middle-aged or the elderly. In fact, I don't think this was ever true.

  • I used to think getting old was about vanity — but actually it's about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial.

  • I can't actually see myself putting make-up on my face at the age of sixty, but I can see myself going on a camel train to Samarkand.

  • I've realized that aging is the younger cousin of dying. ... How much time do I have left? We become aware that we're on the downside of the mountain, coasting toward our final days.

  • If we grow old wisely, we lay aside the senseless forms and meaningless conventions of society and go back to a more primitive mode of social intercourse, picking our friends the way children do, — because we like them, — spending time enough with them to get some real good out of them.

  • Growing old was simply a process of drawing closer to that ultimate independence called death.

  • Every time I think that I'm getting old, and gradually going to the grave, something else happens.

  • As long as you can see each day as a chance for something new to happen, something you never experienced before, you will stay young.

    • Sadie Delany,
    • in Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth, Having Our Say ()
  • ... you don't get smarter as you get older, you get braver.

  • I'm angry that it's almost over, just when I understand I've just begun.

  • As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people sure don't.