Now to Grow 0ld
Inspire of the title，this article will really be on how not to grow old，which，at my time of life，is a much more important subject.My first advice would be to choose your ancestors carefully.Although both my parents died young，I have done well in this respect as regards my other ancestors.My maternal grandfather，it is true，was cut off in the flower of his youth at the age of sixty—seven，but my other three grandparents all lived to be over eighty.Of remoter ancestors I can only discover one who did not live to a great age，and he died of a disease which is now rare，namely，having his head cut off.A great.grandmother of mine，who was a friend of Gibbon，lived to the age of ninety.two.and to her 1ast day remained a terror to all her descendants.My maternal grandmother，after having nine children who survived，one who died in infancy，and many miscarriages，as soon as she became a widow devoted herself to women’S higher education.She was one of the founders of Girton College,and worked hard at opening the medical profession to women.She used to relate how she met in Italy明elderly gentleman who Was looking very sad.She inquired the cause of his melancholy and he said that he had just parted from his two grandchildren。“Good gracious，”she exclaimed.“I have seventy-two grandchildren，and if 1 were sad each time l parted from one of them.I should have a dismal existence!”“Madre snaturale.”he replied.But speaking as one of the seventytwo，I prefer her recipe.After the age of eighty she found she had some difficulty in getting to sleep，SO she habitually spent the hours from midnight to 3：00 A.M.in reading popular science.I do nol 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 call 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 brevity of your future.
As regards health，I have nothing useful to say since I have little experience of illness.I eat and drink whatever I like，and sleep when I cannot keep awake.I never do anything whatever on the ground that it is good for health，though in actual fact the things I like doing are mostly wholesome.
Psychologically there are two dangers to be guarded against in old age.One of these is undue absorption in the past.It does not do to live in memories，in regrets for the good old days，or in sadness about friends who are dead.One’s thoughts must be di·rected to the future,and to things about which there is something to be done.This is notalways easy;one’s own past is a gradually increasing weight.It is easy to think to oneselfthat one’s emotions used to be more vivid than they are，and one’s mind more keen.Ifthis is true it should be forgotten，and if it is forgotten it will probably not be true.
The other thing to be avoided is clinging to youth in the hope of sucking vigorfrom its vitality.When your children ale grown up they want to live their own lives，and if you continue to be as interested in them as you were when they were young,you are likely to become a burden to them，unless they are unusually callous.I do notmean that one should be without interest in them，but one’s interest should be coil.tempiative and，if possible，philanthropic，but not unduly emotional.Animals becomeindifferent to their young as soon as their young can look after themselves，but human beings，owing to the length of infancy，find this difficult.
I think that a successful old age is easiest for those who have strong impersonalinterests involving appropriate activities.It is in this sphere that long experience is re—ally fruitful，and it is in this sphere that the wisdom born of experience can be exer.cised without being oppressive.It is no use telling grown—up children not to make mis—takes，both because they will not believe you，and because mistakes are an essentialpart of education.But if you ale one of those who are incapable of impersonal inter-ests，you may find that your life will be empty unless you concern yourself with yourchildren and grandchildren.In that case you must realize that while you can still ren—der them material services，such as making them an allowance or knitting themjumpers，you must not expect that they will enjoy your company.
Some old people are oppressed by the fear of death.In the young there is a justi—fication for this feeling.Young men who have reason to fear that they will be killed inbattle may justifiably feel bitter in the thought that they have been cheated of the bestthings that life has to offer.But in an old man who has known human joys and sorrows，and has achieved whatever work it was in him to do，the fear of death is somewhat ab.ject and ignoble.The best way to overcome it—so at least it seems to me—is tomake your interests gradually wider and more impersonal，until bit by bit the walls ofthe ego recede，and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.An in—dividual human existence should be like a river—small at first，narrowly containedwithin its banks，and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls.Graduallythe 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 in.dividual being.The man who，in old age，can see his life in this way，will not sufferfrom the fear of death。since the things he cares for will continue.And if,with the de.cay of vitality，weariness increases，the thought of rest will be not unwelcome.I shouldwish to die while still at work.knowing that others will carry on what I can no longerdo，and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.