Old Age Needn’t Be the Pits


Photo by Daphné Richard on Unsplash

Turning 90 — which I am now happily doing — is a mixed bag.

Things I’m happy to have skipped: Internet dating. Raves. Tik Tok. ChatGPT. Crowdsourcing. Being referred to as a Content Provider 😡.

Things I’m happy to have enjoyed: Big bands. The hula-hoop. TV before cable. The jitterbug. Trash-free cities and waterways. Patriotism before it got a bad name, and civil discourse before it was eliminated from our democracy.

I’ve recently read pearls of wisdom shared by folks turning 30 — or 50, or 20, or even 70. I was brought up to believe that age brought wisdom.

Nahhh. Age brings wrinkles.

At least my wrinkly brain still functions, as do my wrinkly feet. One can hardly ask for more. My advice to the under-90 set is that if you keep using your brains and your feet you’ll probably be fine. It is wise to appreciate them anew every day.

Things that make it worthwhile to be very old:

Kindness. Kindness should be #1 for any age, but mean old people are just the pits. Which brings up:

Attitude: Optimism works for me. Old people have a lot to be grumpy about (I do not.) But grumpy old people are the pits and then some.

Activism. When you’re emailing congressmen, out working for a cause, joining marches or writing postcards to voters you don’t notice arthritis.

Curiosity. Try to be at least as curious as you were 86 years ago.

Friends. Nobody doesn’t want to be friends with an unthreatening old person. (See above.) It is wise to have been collecting friends all along, but young friends are important because the others keep dying off.

Gratitude. On the worst day there’s something to be grateful for. By the time you get this old, just waking up is one.

Finitude. Specifically: I’m likely to die soon. (Hopefully not tomorrow; another few years on the planet would be okay.) But dying is not the worst thing that happens to anybody. It is wise to consider this reality and take appropriate action.

Faith. In god by whatever name, in Mother Nature, the celestial universe, doesn’t matter. It is not wise to think we humans are the be-all and end-all, an idea too depressing for any age. It is wise to consider the stars and clouds and oceans, and the fact that if we don’t take better care of our little planet whoever’s in charge is likely to give up on us.

That’s about all the nonagenarian wisdom I can come up with.

I’m grateful to you for reading.


  1. Delighted to receive your stories. You’re indefatigable! Greetings fromSanta Monica beach side.

  2. You are right up there with Phil. Your list of attributes and advantages is very fine. At 74, gives me something to aspire to.
    I WILL get to SF one of these years. Happiest of birthdays Fran.

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