clock with snow

We all age and become older, from birth to death. As we get older, we may know more than we did when we were younger. We also are more likely to have bodies that don’t work as well as they once did. Aging has its advantages and disadvantages, and they aren’t always what our first reactions might be. The “winter of our life” can be meaningful and it can be discouraging. Pundits and poets have weighed in on the meaning and experience of aging.

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And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

— Abraham Lincoln

Learn to live well, or fairly make your will;
You’ve play’d, and lov’d, and ate, and drank your fill;
Walk sober off, before a sprightlier age
Comes titt’ring on, and shoves you from the stage.

— Alexander Pope

Of all the wastes of human ignorance perhaps the most extravagant and costly to human growth has been the waste of the distinctive powers of womanhood after the child-bearing age.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.

— Carl Sagan

In youth, it was a way I had,
To do my best to please.
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.

— Dorothy Parker

There’s no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow.

— Edith Wharton

I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because some day in life you will have been all of these.

— George Washington Carver

Women over fifty already form one of the largest groups in the population structure of the Western world. As long as they like themselves, they will not be an oppressed minority. In order to like themselves they must reject trivialization by others of who and what they are. A grown woman should not have to masquerade as a girl in order to remain in the land of the living.

— Germaine Greer

You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.

— Germaine Greer

We are always the same age inside.

— Gertrude Stein

The easiest thing for our friends to discover in us, and the hardest thing for us to discover in ourselves, is that we are growing old.

— H. W. Shaw

The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.

— H.L. Mencken

So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why doesn’t somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls. Why don’t somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

Winter, which strips the leaves from around us, makes us see the distant regions they formerly concealed; so does old age rob us of our enjoyments, only to enlarge the prospect of eternity before us.

— Jean Paul Richter

He who would pass the declining years of his life with honor and comfort, should when young, consider that he may one day become old, and remember, when he is old, that he has once been young.

— Joseph Addison

We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help us stay young.

— Letty Cottin Pogrebin

When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect — but do not believe him. Never put your trust into anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or has lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel laureate — may be wrong. The world progresses, year by year, century by century, as the members of the younger generation find out what was wrong among the things that their elders said. So you must always be skeptical — always think for yourself.

— Linus Pauling

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

— Mark Twain, attributed in error

Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty, they merely move it from their faces into their hearts.

— Martin Buxbaum

The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

There are two things that one must get used to or one will find life unendurable: the damages of time and injustices of men.

— Nicolas Chamfort

Live your life and forget your age.

— Norman Vincent Peale

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.

— Oscar Wilde

You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.

— Pearl S. Buck

We ask for long life, but ’tis deep life, or noble moments that signify. Let the measure of time be spiritual, not mechanical.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are reformers in spring and summer; in autumn and winter, we stand by the old; reformers in the morning, conservers at night.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Conservative’

Play is hard to maintain as you get older. You get less playful. You shouldn’t, of course.

— Richard Feynman
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