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