Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Grow Old

HOW TO GROW OLD, Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life was written almost 2,000 years ago in 44 B.C. by the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero. In 2016 a new edition translated and with an introduction by Philip Freeman was published.  It is a gem of a book with timeless perspective on aging and  invaluable advice on how to live a fulfilling life in later years. It is a read worth the time.

Many of us believe that old age is to be dreaded and avoided (if that was even possible) at all costs.  Cicero, instead, finds joy and a form of freedom in being older and as he says, "wiser."  He points out others who are role models because they kept their minds "...as tight as a bow."  Today we say use it or lose it, but it means the same thing.

He counsels against the bad behaviors of over indulgence in food and drink.  Exercising self control is a big deal for him.  One of our readers told us, "Cicero gives the same advise my doctor gives me. Now I know where he (the doctor) got it."

Cicero acknowledges that life can be difficult. "...what troubles doesn't it have."  However, he celebrates life and all the learnings and experiences that he garners it the pursuit of living.  You could say that he was really an early motivational speaker, highlighting that conquering difficulties is just part of the game and makes us wiser as a result.  He also believes the quest for youth is a waste of time.  If you read the book, you will find out why.

Princeton University Press is the publisher.  In their write up they feature the "French philosopher, Montaigne, who said that Cicero's book 'gives one an appetite for growing old'."  Two of our Founding Fathers, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, not only read the book but did so frequently to remind themselves of the wisdom required to age well.  Franklin, a printer by trade, even re-published it in the hope that more readers would benefit from the sage advice within.

It is a short book for a long life.  We highly recommend it.  Think of it as a companion reader to Don't Retire, REWIRE!