A Remarkable Student/Elder Program
This Week in Elder News: 22 March 2008

Quotable Age

category_bug_journal2.gif When I run across a quotation that grabs my attention, I add it to the file of others that accumulate through reading this and that.

The keepers have become fewer over the years perhaps because after living for many decades, it is harder to find new ones that are engaging. Too many fall into the category of affirmations which I find cloying, and as much as I enjoy puns and other forms of wordplay, few offer insight into the mysteries of life.

A good quotation is more than the sum of its parts, a thought worthy of pondering for at least the length of time it takes to brew a pot of coffee, and the best have the power to deepen understanding or, minimally, provide fodder for a blog post when an elder is having a slow brain day.

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”
- Edith Wharton
“The hardest years in life are those between ten and seventy.”
- Helen Hayes
“The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.”
- Alfred North Whitehead
“You'll find as you grow older that you weren't born such a great while ago after all. The time shortens up.”
- William Dean Howells
“With age comes the inner, the higher life. Who would be forever young, to dwell always in externals?”
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.”
- Henry David Thoreau

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Sue West gives us an meditation on lives we have lived in There's an Old Woman in My Mirror.]


Thanks for these. Meaningful quotes make good sig. files too.

Re the Thoreau quote: I usually find myself nodding in agreement with old HDT, but we part company on this one.

Maybe it's just me, but at this stage of life (60+) I find myself dismantling some of the woodsheds I built in youth (to please people) because I need the materials for that bridge to the moon.

Admittedly, the bridge may never be built, but the world already has enough woodsheds.

Thanks Ronni, allow me to share this one.

“Anxiety tips us off to the existence of our freedom: It reminds us of our huge responsibility to choose who we are and to define our world.” – Soren Kierkeguard

As I grow older, the truth of this statement brings ever more satisfaction.

I collect quotes. One of my favs is from Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers:

“Old age is not a disease -- it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses.”

At around 1,000 A.D. Isumu Shikibu said, "It is true the wind blows terribly here--but moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house."

I like these lines from a Leonard Cohen song:
"There is a crack in everything/that's how the light gets in."

I also love quotes and keep my stash of the ones I like best in a file. I also have found that it is harder for me to find "new" ones. So I have stopped looking for favorite people's quotes and started looking places I haven't before.

One of my favorite authors is Margaret Atwood, who wrote The Handmaid's Tale among many other wonderful books; so I decided to see what quotations I could find from her.

I especially like this one:
“I've never understood why people consider youth a time of freedom and joy. It's probably because they have forgotten their own.”
Margaret Atwood

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