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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We do not count a man’s years until he has nothing else to count.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Within, I do not find wrinkles and used heart, but unspent youth.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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’

It is not the length of life, but depth of life.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

— Richard Feynman

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.

— Robert Frost

How does one keep from ‘growing old inside’? Surely only in community. The only way to make friends with time is to stay friends with people…. Taking community seriously not only gives us the companionship we need, it also relieves us of the notion that we are indispensable.

— Robert McAfee Brown

In a spiritually sensitive culture, then, it might well be that age is something to be admired or envied.

— Rowan D. Williams

One of the secrets to staying young is to always do things you don’t know how to do, to keep learning.

— Ruth Reichl

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That’s how being eleven years old is.

— Sandra Cisneros, “Eleven”

Nothing inspires more reverence and awe in me than an old man who knows how to change his mind.

— Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Our care should not be to have lived long as to have lived enough.

— Seneca

Since it is the Other within us who is old, it is natural that the revelation of our age should come to us from outside — from others. We do not accept it willingly.

— Simone de Beauvoir

Retirement may be looked upon either as a prolonged holiday or as a rejection, a being thrown on to the scrap-heap.

— Simone de Beauvoir

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

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball — the further I am rolled the more I gain.

— Susan B. Anthony

I don’t want to die as long as I can work; the minute I can not, I want to go.

— Susan B. Anthony

History maketh a young man to be old, without either wrinkles or gray hairs, — privileging him with the experience of age, without either the infirmities or inconveniences thereof.

— Thomas Fuller

An old goat is never the more reverend for his beard.

— Thomas Fuller, M.D.

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.

— Victor Hugo

What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of forty is simply a loss of energy.

— Voltaire

My eyes and my mind keep taking me where my old legs can’t keep up.

— Zora Neale Hurston

When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners.

— Zora Neale Hurston
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