Jewish World Review March 8, 2002 / 24 Adar, 5762

Thomas Sowell

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On growing old -- Random thoughts about growing old:

  • Despite the problems that come with aging, I would not be a teenager again for $1,000 a day plus expenses.

  • I never really felt old until my younger brother retired.

  • This is the period of life that Disraeli referred to as "anecdotage."

  • Nothing is more ridiculous than discounts for senior citizens, when people in their 60s have far more wealth than people in their 30s.

  • These are my declining years. I decline all sorts of invitations and opportunities.

  • People who talk about "earlier and simpler times" are usually too young to remember those times -- and how complicated they were.

  • An old body is like an old automobile, where the brakes need repairing today, the steering wheel next month and the transmission after that.

  • Looking at old photographs makes it hard for me to believe that I was ever that thin physically. And remembering some of the things I did in those days makes it hard to believe that I was ever that thin mentally.

  • You would think that young people, with decades of life ahead of them, would look farther ahead and plan for the future more so than older people. But it is just the opposite. The young tend to be oriented to right now, while old-timers think about the future of their children and grandchildren, and worry about where the country is heading in the years ahead.

  • They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But maybe the old dog already knows about tricks that only seem new to the young -- and doesn't think much of those tricks.

  • When I was young, age 40 seemed so ancient that I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be 40. Now I can barely remember what it was like to be 40.

  • Age gives you an excuse for not being very good at things that you were not very good at when you were young.

  • An old saying is that we are once a man and twice a child. The difference is that we more or less automatically have parents to look after us the first time, but whether we will have someone to show us the same love and care when we are at the other end of life is another story.

  • It is amazing -- and appalling -- how many people who are walking with the elderly try to pull them along faster than they want to go, or perhaps faster than they are able to go. What does this accomplish, except to create needless tension and stress? And how urgent is it to save a few seconds here and there?

  • Like so many people who are getting on in years, I am fine -- so long as I remember that I am not fine.

  • The old are not really smarter than the young. It is just that we have already made the mistakes that the young are about to make, so we already know that these are mistakes and what the consequences are.

  • Some people age like fine wine and others just turn into vinegar.

  • Someone asked a man in his 70s at what age he started to lose interest in women. "I don't know," he said. "But when it happens, I will tell you."

  • I urge my fellow old-timers to write their memoirs, just so that "revisionist" historians will not be able to get away with lying about the past.

  • More than once, after I woke up some morning feeling like I was 20 again, I did something that ended up with me on crutches or otherwise being reminded emphatically by my body that I was definitely not 20 again. Women may lie about their age to other people, but men lie about their age to themselves.

  • When old-time Brooklyn Dodgers pitching ace Don Newcombe was near the end of his career, someone asked him if he could still throw as hard as ever. "Yes, I throw the ball as hard as ever," he said, "but it just takes longer to get to the plate."

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes said it best: "If I could think that I had sent a spark to those who come after I should be ready to say Goodbye."

JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late.


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© 2002, Creators Syndicate