Thoughts on ageing

Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My seventies were interesting and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate. I grow more intense as I age. To my own surprise, I burst out with hot conviction. Only a few years ago, I enjoyed my tranquility; now I am so disturbed by my outer world and by human quality in general that I want to put things right, as though I still owed a debt to life. I must calm down now. I am far too frail to indulge in moral fervour.

imagesFlorida Scott-Maxwell, playwright, author and psychologist, wrote these words at age 85



We say that we cannot be human all by ourselves; we need each other. I have arthritis and I have failing vision and the two conditions complicate my life. I say to people: ‘Help me, may I take your hand up this step or down this kerb.’ I have learnt not to feel diminished by asking for help. Instead I feel a new kind of reward from human love: I touch your arm and something happens, something that is warming and affirming.

images-2Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers




Those who urge us to fight ageing are, in effect, inviting us to stop growing and developing. In so doing, they’re depriving us of the opportunity to carry out and successfully complete the task of being alive and human. Individually and collectively we’re being infantalized: we should insist on the right to grow up.

9780230767751Anne Karpf, How to Age, Macmillan, 2014.


  1. I love that last one- how incredibly freeing! Let’s bring back the respect and dignity that were once- and in other cultures still are- a natural right earned by ageing.


  2. I am reflecting on the force of habit combined with the ageing process. I am still working trying to understand my hubby,! After 45 years!


  3. I have finally tracked down a poem that your blogs on ageing reminded me of. It’s by Mildred J. Nash, and it’s called “Hera, elderly” (classical allusion to Hera, the wife of Zeus):

    Hera, wearing orthopaedic shoes,
    still struts. Her years are regal as antiques.
    Age craves new travel, although avenues
    grow inaccessible, the carriage weak.

    “I want! I want!” the ancient peacock cries
    as lustily as ever. Bones become
    more disobedient than children, rise
    reluctantly, threatening to succumb;
    and yet volition never flags. Rage
    at a failing body drives her on.

    About desire she is never vague.
    The list of things she’d do remains as long
    at eighty as it was at eight and grows
    ever more reckless as the years foreclose.


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