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Middle Age

  • The first impulse of many women as the current bears them toward middle age is to turn back toward youth or at least to try to remain stationary, treading water. But wise women perceive how pleasant the new scene is and let the current carry them serenely. Even when it seems to be bearing them on from middle age to age itself, they do not struggle and they enjoy all their voyage, for they feel that evening air has a good quality of its own.

  • It's hard to feel middle-aged, because how can you tell how long you are going to live?

  • How is it that the poets have said so many fine things about our first love, so few about our later love? Are their first poems their best? or are not those the best which come from their fuller thought, their larger experience, their deeper-rooted affections?

  • In the multitude of middle aged men who go about their vocations in a daily course determined for them much in the same way as they tie their cravats, there is always a good number who once meant to shape their own deeds and alter the world a little.

  • Few women, I fear, have had such reason as I have to think the long sad years of youth were worth living for the sake of middle age.

    • George Eliot,
    • journal (1857), in J.W. Cross, ed., George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals ()
  • Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego.

  • For is it not possible that middle age can be looked upon as a period of second flowering, second growth, even a kind of second adolescence? It is true that society in general does not help one accept this interpretation of the second half of life.

  • I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly find — at the age of fifty, say — that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about. ... It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.

  • ... I have discovered that middle age is not a question of years. It is that moment in life when one realizes that one has exchanged, by a series of subtle shifts and substitutes, the vague and vaporous dreams of youth, for the definite and tangible realization. It may be a very beautiful and successful realization; it may be indeed real furs for dream furs, real travel for dream travel — but it is never the dream, it never can be the dream. A fact is but one fact after all, a dream may enclose a thousand glowing and iridescent and indeed irreconcilable facts.

  • ... in middle age we are apt to reach the horrifying conclusion that all sorrow, all pain, all passionate regret and loss and bitter disillusionment are self-made.

  • ... we middle-aged folk have the education of life, truly; we know the multiplication table of anxieties and sorrows, the subtraction table of loss, the division table of responsibility.

  • Beware the mediocrity that threatens middle age, its limitation of thought and interest, its dullness of fancy, its too external life, and mental thinness.

  • I stand in the sunny noon of life. Objects no longer glitter in the dews of morning, neither are yet softened by the shadows of evening. Every spot is seen, every chasm revealed.

  • ... she had learned that a woman of her age, however conspicuous her past, and whatever her present claims to notice, is fated to pass unremarked in a society where youth so undisputedly rules.

  • This is one of the advantages of middle age: people have got used to their bodies and to their faults; they know how to use them, to spare them, and they do not expect too much.

  • I have never yet heard any middle-aged man or woman who worked with his or her brains express any regret for the passing of youth.

  • The term middle-aged, invented by Descartes, comes from the Latin, medeus, meaning 'not really old' and ageis, meaning 'if you look at it in a certain way.'

  • Middle Age connotes fat, cancer, bad musical taste, and death. It conjures up a commuter in the sixties going to a Neil Simon play in Sansabelt pants, a knit vest, balding, belly sagging — and then there's the men.

  • Middle Age, a restful, welcome break from real life, brings some unique opportunities.

  • [On middle age:] ... the very real possibility for you of growing fat as you near death and thus being seen by everyone while you are both DEAD AND FAT ...

  • It is so easy for a middle-aged person, in the presence of youth, to be deluded about his own age. The young faces are so exactly like the one he saw in his own mirror — only day before yesterday, it seems.

  • I was a woman, / which is to say, / part girl and part suffering. / The first half of my life / has been utterly absorbed / by other people / and by my own demons. / The second half / I will spend laughing.

  • One of the many things nobody ever tells you about middle age is that it's such a nice change from being young.

  • 'Your only aim in life seems to be to keep out of trouble.' 'Yes. That is the beginning of middle age.'

  • When I was young, I saw middle age as a vast dull expanse, something like a big gray parking lot baking in the sun, filled with empty cars, deserted of life, but serving a useful purpose. I certainly didn't intend to end up parked there.

  • The sweet reward for preparation often does not come in the youthful twenties or staid thirties. It arrives — with accrued interest — in the mature years.

  • Middle age is when you get in the car and immediately change the radio station.

  • Middle age is when you find out where the action is so you can go someplace else.

  • I am a woman of a certain age / becoming invisible. / I walk the street unseen.

    • Suzanne Laberge,
    • "The Metaphysics of Menopause," in Dena Taylor and Amber Coverdale Sumrall, Women of the Fourteenth Moon ()
  • ... it is in middle age that the interest of a life attains its highest point.

  • Shall I not bless the middle years? / Not I for youth repine ...

  • When you're a fifty-year-old woman, no one really bothers to look at you anymore, much less value your opinion. It's hard on the old ego. But damn, it does make it easy to get away with a lot.

  • ... we in middle age require adventure.

  • My mother had demonstrated that the best way to defeat the numbing ambivalence of middle age is to surprise yourself — by pulling off some cartwheel of thought or action never even imagined at a younger age.

  • As we reach midlife in the middle thirties or early forties, we are not prepared for the idea that time can run out on us, or for the startling truth that if we don't hurry to pursue our own definition of a meaningful existence, life can become a repetition of trivial maintenance duties.

  • The middle years of life come on like thunder.

  • The middle years, caught between children and parents, free of neither: the past stretches back too densely, it is too thickly populatd, the future has not yet thinned out.

  • All one's life as a young woman one is on show, a focus of attention, people notice you. You set yourself up to be noticed and admired. And then, not expecting it, you become middle-aged and anonymous. No one notices you. You achieve a wonderful freedom. It is a positive thing. You can move about, unnoticed and invisible.

  • The 40s are when you start trading your psychological problems for physical ones.

  • Middle age is the way you would feel about summer if you knew there would never be another spring.

  • The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge that you'll grow out of it.

    • Doris Day,
    • in A. E. Hotchner, Doris Day: Her Own Story ()
  • What does youth know of the magnificent emotions and possibilities of middle age?

  • What people don't tell us is that in our 50s, we have a repeat of our adolescence. Our bodies change without our permission; our family structures change as parents die and children leave home; our rules and roles change. Women are becoming empowered and are finding more freedom. Since we haven't been trained for that, it is natural to have periods of awkwardness and uncertainty, as we try new behaviors and dream of new possibilities.

  • ... I can now measure many of my friendships in decades. This is the upside of middle age.

  • Summer days are over! / O my one true lover, / Sit we now alone together / In the early autumn weather! / From our nest the birds have flown / To fair dreamlands of their own, / And we see the days go by, / In silence — thou and I!

  • Youth was gone, but night had not fully arrived, — and some of the glow of afternoon still lingered in his blood.

  • Youth is the time of getting, middle age of improving, and old age of spending.

    • Anne Bradstreet,
    • "Meditations Divine and Moral" (1664), in John Harvard Ellis, ed., The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse ()
  • God, middle age is an unending insult.

  • Women were once permitted a mourning period for their youthful faces; it was called middle age. Now we don't even have that. Instead we have the science of embalming disguised as grooming.

  • By the age of fifty, you have made yourself what you are, and if it is good, it is better than your youth.

  • The midpoint of life represents the moment of maximal conflict between our drive to seek external solutions to our emotional dilemmas and our recognition that, ultimately, they don't work.

  • In the United States, it’s not only that we’re not young anymore; we’re not anything.