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How To Grow Old

Stop whatever you are doing and read Bertrand Russell’s essay “How to Grow Old.”

I adore this essay.

In speaking about his maternal grandmother, he wrote:

“I do not believe that she ever had time to notice that she was growing old. This, I think, is the proper recipe for remaining young. If you have wide and keen interests and activities in which you can still be effective, you will have no reason to think about the merely statistical fact of the number of years you have already lived, still less of the probable shortness of your future.”

I love this so much, and I support it wholeheartedly, As I’ve written about many times, when faced with a choice, always choose the option that expands your life.

In speaking about the fear of death, he wrote:

“The best way to overcome (the fear of death) -so at least it seems to me- is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue.”

I’d love to be able to say that this paragraph mitigates my relentless fear of death, but it did not.

At least not yet.

But maybe the wisdom of his words will eventually penetrate my obstreperous, stubborn mind.

I hope so.

Nevertheless, It’s a brilliant essay. Enlightening, amusing, insightful, and so original.

Also, it’s short, which adds to its brilliance. It’ll take you less than five minutes to read.

No excuses. Read it now.