SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue
I recently landed on an NBCNews.com article about a Bolivian man who is said to be 123 years old.
The article detailed his traditional Andean diet and lifestyle habits, and while I found this information to be informative and interesting, I didn’t find it particularly inspiring because it's not relevant to how I live or even want to. I don’t do well in high altitudes and I’m not likely to suck on coca leaves or eat mixtures of quinoa and potatoes.
No, I prefer food for thought.
I find greater inspiration in the deeds of the long-lived and in the eloquent words of those with an amazing ability to size up and express the positive aspects of advancing years.
With that thought in mind, I went hunting for insightful quotes about aging. With the help of the Good Reads website I discovered some truly amazing quotes that capture the writers’ views about the difference between aging and growing up, the impact of passing years on our bodies and the nature of wisdom and long friendships. There are many more where these came from, but here are some of my favorites.
1. “Most people don't grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”
— Maya Angelou
2. “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
— Robert Frost
3. “I want to grow old without facelifts ... I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I've made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you'd never complete your life, would you? You'd never wholly know you.”
— Marilyn Monroe
4. “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.”
— George Orwell
5. “There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
— Sophia Loren
6. “The older I get, the more I see there are these crevices in life where things fall in and you just can't reach them to pull them back out. So you can sit next to them and weep or you can get up and move forward. You have to stop worrying about who's not here and start worrying about who is.”
— Alex Witchel, The Spare Wife
7. “You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”
— George Bernard Shaw
8. “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.”
— Gloria Steinem
9. “Wisdom comes with winters.”
— Oscar Wilde
10. “Now is the time to become a myth.”
— Diane Von Furstenberg
11. It is lovely to meet an old person whose face is deeply lined, a face that has been deeply inhabited, to look in the eyes and find light there.”
— John O-Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
12. “As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”
— Criss Jami
13. “The thing about old friends is not that they love you, but that they know you. They remember that disastrous New Year's Eve when you mixed White Russians and champagne and how you wore that red maternity dress until everyone was sick of seeing the blaze of it in the office and the uncomfortable couch in your first apartment and the smoky stove in your beach rental. They look at you and don't really think you look older because they've grown old along with you and, like the faded paint in a beloved room, they're used to the look. And then one of them is gone and you've lost a chunk of yourself. The stories of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the tsunami, the Japanese earthquake always used numbers, the deaths of thousands a measure of how great the disaster. Catastrophe is numerical. Loss is singular, one beloved at a time.”
— Anna Quindlen, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
14. Wisdom is the reward for surviving our own stupidity.”
— Brian Rathbone, Regent
15. “In terms of days and moments lived, you’ll never again be as young as you are right now, so spend this day, the youth of your future, in a way that deflects regret. Invest in yourself. Have some fun. Do something important. Love somebody extra. In one sense, you’re just a kid, but a kid with enough years on her to know that every day is priceless.”
— Victoria Moran, Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Body and Revitalize Your Spirit
16. “I've enjoyed every age I've been and each has had its own individual merit. Every laugh line, every scar, is a badge I wear to show I've been present, the inner rings of my personal tree trunk that I display proudly for all to see. Nowadays, I don't want a "perfect" face and body; I want to wear the life I've lived.”
— Pat Benatar, Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir
17. “Me, I've seen 45 years and I've only figured out one thing. That's this: if a person would just make the effort, there's something to be learned from everything. From even the most ordinary, commonplace things, there's always something you can learn. I read somewhere that they said there's even different philosophies in razors. Fact is, if it weren't for that, nobody'd survive.”
— Haruki Murakami, Pinball, 1973
18. “As time went on, we learned to arm ourselves in our different ways. Some of us with real guns, some of us with more ephemeral weapons, an idea or improbable plan or some sort of formulation about how best to move through the world. An idea that will let us be. Protect us and keep us safe. But a weapon nonetheless.”
— Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor
19. “Never too late to learn some embarrassingly basic, stupidly obvious things about oneself.”
— Alain de Botton
20. “Are you all right, Sir?" asked Hezekiah.
"Just fighting over old battles in my mind," said John. "It's the problem with age. You have all these rusty arguments and no quarrel to use them in. My brain is a museum, but alas, I'm the only visitor, and even I am not terribly interested in the displays."
Hezekiah laughed, but there was affection in it. "I would love nothing better than to visit there. But I'm afraid I'd be tempted to loot the place and carry it all away with me.”
— Orson Scott Card, Heartfire
21. “It is best as one grows older to strip oneself of possessions, to shed oneself downward like a tree, to be almost wholly earth before one dies.”
— Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolly Willowes
22. “At 11, I could say ‘I am sodium’ (Element 11) and now, at 79, I am gold.”
— Oliver Sacks
23. “Intelligence, goodness, humanity, excitement, serenity. Over time, these are the things that change the musculature of your face, as do laughter and animation and especially whatever peace you can broker with the person inside.
It's furrow, pinch and judgment that make us look older — our mothers were right. They said that if you made certain faces, they would stick and they do. But our mothers forgot that faces of kindness and integrity stick as well.”
— Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith
24. “I’ve got a sizeable retirement nest egg. It’s an ostrich egg and it’s going to make an omelet so big that it’ll produce enough leftovers for decades. ”
— Jarod Kintz, The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They’re Over.
25. “When I grow up I want to be an old woman.”
— Michelle Shocked
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