Wonderful book by Daniel Klein on old age with wisdoms to tackle it and can certainly be applied to young and mid age too. Tidbits I found to cherish:
“Nothing is too late” refrain is too tempting for old-agers but look at Longfellow’s poem:
Ah, nothing is too late
Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
Cato learned Greek at eighty, Sophocles
wrote his grand Oedipus, and Simonides
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers,
when each had numbered more than fourscore years
And Theophrastus, at fourscore and ten
Had began his “Characters of Men.”
Epicurus was not a sensualist and he was not looking for dazzling sensory excitement. He’d always say bring on those plate of boiled lentils! He had Zen like attitude about his senses: if fully engaged in tasting the lentils, he would experience all the subtle delights of their flavor, delights that rival those of more extravagant spiced fare.
Epicurus was not afraid of death. He famously said, “Death is nothing to us, since when we are , death has not come, and when death has come we are not. The absence of life is not evil; death is no more alarming than the nothingness before birth.
On boredom in old age:
The most hyperactive of us are precisely those who have the lowest boredom thresholds. We scurry activity after activity as we cannot face tackling tine that is ‘empty’. The predestined disappointment built into desperately yearned-for newness has found its expression in many ironic aphorisms – like Oscar Wild’s: “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what you want and the other i s getting it. The last is much the worst.”
How do you explain infinite regression:
Andreas: What holds the world up?
Orestes: Atlas, of course
Andreas: But what holds up Atlas?
Orestes: He stands on the back of a turtle
Andreas: But what does the turtle stand on?
Orestes: On another turtle’s back
Andreas: But what does that turtle stand on?
Orestes; MY dear Andreas, it’s turtles all the way down!
Epicurus on Sex:
Sex may go out of hand, to skitter outside the all important comfort zone. Marriage and procreation, yes these provide lasting satisfactions. but sex – and purely sexual love – inevitably leads to more unhappiness that its fleeting pleasures are worth. Sex exposes unnecessary and insatiable needs that bare vulnerabilities and promote anxieties. He mapped the sequence in which sex causes misery: it starts with lust, moves on to ardor, peaks with consummations, and then goes directly to jealousy or boredom or both. When age catches up with our libido: There are discrete stages of life, each with its own qualities, and that fudging these stages is to fudge the inherent value of each of them. It feels more authentic to me to recognize that human desires and capabilities change from one period of life to the next, and that to deny that they do is to miss out on what is most fulfilling about each stage. Wanting to want something that he doesn’t really want that much, and in his old age, no less, just seems counterfeit, untrue to himself
The best antidote for anger is delay – Seneca