Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man.
True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high-school class is running the country.
Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.
Youth has to do with spirit, not age. Men of seventy or sixty are often more youthful than the young. Theirs is the real youth.
What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.
How old do you have to get before wisdom descends like a plastic bag over your head and you learn to keep your big mouth shut? Maybe never. Maybe you get more frivolous with age.
The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.
If I had known when I was twenty-one that I should be as happy as I am now, I should have been sincerely shocked. They promised me wormwood and the funeral raven.
Don’t ever think the poetry is dead in an old man because his forehead is wrinkled, or that his manhood has left him when his hand trembles! If they ever were there, they are there still.
When I was young, I was amazed at Plutarch’s statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.
Society turns away from the aged worker as though he belonged to another species. . . . Old age exposes the failure of our entire civilization.
We categorize everyone. We send the old here, the young there. We ship adolescents off to war. We send everyone to prison every day: the children to school, the parents to the office or the factory, the musicians to concert halls in the evening.
Among the San Bushmen of southern Africa . . . the hunt for game with poison-tipped arrows depends on moving rapidly across the veld. . . . When men become too old to participate in the hunt, they become the makers of arrows — and tradition ascribes to the arrow maker the primary credit for the kill. . . . Similarly, only when women are too old for childbearing are they permitted to become shamanic healers, a translation of the love and care they have given their children to the health of the wider community. In both cases, an appropriately limited effort is recognized as having a profound value.
It is nonsense for you to talk of old age so long as you outrun young men in the race for service and in the midst of anxious times fill rooms with your laughter and inspire youth with hope when they are on the brink of despair.
My Mamá Grande, a tiny Mayan woman, took me aside when I was an adolescent and told me several things that didn’t make a bit of sense to my young and inattentive ears, and as young people tend to waste all attempts of our elders to relay to us wisdom accumulated over the decades, I thought my Mamá Grande had a few mice in the attic.
If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
The real challenge is not simply to survive. Hell, anyone can do that. It’s to survive as yourself, undiminished.