Connie Goldman, former Minnesota Public Radio reporter, presents "The Ageless Spirit: Conversations in Praise of Age," a program about growing older that she produced and narrated. Goldman traveled the country gathering insight and interviews with celebrities in their 50s and beyond. They shared their hopes, passions and concerns about the second half of their lives.
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I don't think of such a thing as feeling old and it's so many people say that even if they are old Crocks they would say I don't feel old. Now you're 22 and 24 have forever. Would I look in the mirror? I don't see them alive. It gets better every year. That's the way life is live your life and forget your age anything that has care and is kept up becomes a classic now that applies to cars and the people you can become a classic.You may have recognized some of those voices. If not, you'll surely recognize many of the names of those who will share their insights and personal views Jason Robards Pete Seeger. Artie Shaw Beatrice would Hugh Downs Phyllis Diller Stanley Kunitz Ossie Davis, Eddie, Albert Art Linkletter and others as well. When I recorded the original interviews, we didn't talk much about fame or professional accomplishments nor did we indulge in the latest gossip that softens around such celebrities what made our conversations unique I believe with a focus exclusively on the subject of Aging their view of life from the perspective of being in their 50s 60s 70s 80s and Beyond you may have imagined that celebrity stars public personalities are different from the rest of us, but as you'll discover the dignity and integrity of their encounter with aging is our own as well.The thing you need more than anything else when you get old is courage to are going to go through things where you have to become much more flexible. You have to be willing to change you have to face painful crises and courage is really absolutely the most essential that part of it. They need to be about things. If you can't beat them join anything. I really don't have much time to waste you don't have to worry about the future. And therefore you take each really each day. I take each hour for the place where it brings you got to keep a factor to keep alive. I just truly believe that and I'm more active now that I was at a younger age could have more to be active about if you don't continue to exerciseThe muscles atrophy and I'm not just speaking of muscles and Swinging what goes on between the years and your general enthusiasm for Life keeps. When is life's adventures if you're lucky enough to hang around is growing older? Yes, in reality. Of course, we start aging the day were born but growing old somehow When We Were Young. We just can't visualize ourselves looking wrinkled or gray haired or bald or seeing ourselves in the mirror. Looking more like we remember our grandparents than resembling our own high school graduation photos. There's no question that the outside of an individual does change and weather and wrinkled but very curious play. The inside does not change that was ceramic artist Beatrice wood now a hundred and one years old incidentally with her comments on that strange discrepancy between how we look on the outside and how we might feel on the inside the essence of human being the sole or whatever. It is called actually never ages. It's only the outer covering of an individual that ages post maker. the pill taken and the many visits for check-ups to the doctors. I don't feel that's the voice of 86 year old classic film Casablanca as well as over 50 other screenplays or there's a jog 6 miles. So I'm doing for now. That isn't too bad. There are physical manifestations. My hearing isn't what should be I'm considering a hearing aid glasses little things like that. The only manifestations to me. I don't think I'm I know any of my friends my cronies. I think is everything old fogey about it. But I never sent it might have one day about how do you say one day Young and the next day your own television host and commentator Hugh Downs now in his mid-70s if I'm walking down the street. I'm a thirty-five-year-old walking down the street and I really think that people look at me that way and then I see myself in a store window and it's always a surprise it's not painful but it's just kind of music is a surprising to see the older man looking back at me Art. Linkletter growing old is one of the most surprising things that happens to end of everybody. I didn't give it any thought as most people don't because I was healthy. I was well, I was happy things were going along swimmingly. I was busily occupied with a career and a family. And all of a sudden I discovered one day that I had gotten old in a family way at you begin to realize you're old when your children become grandparents. That is a a real reminder when my son jack became a grandfather. And I still thought of him as a little boy. Basically, I realized the time had passed Mary Catherine Bateson is a scholar and writer she shares a story about her mother the prestigious Anthropologist Margaret Mead. I have a memory that one my mother began to get gray hair. She was looking quite specially beautiful. It was a good time in her life and she didn't disguise it and I remember thinking how pretty my mommy looks and so that when I began to get gray hair, I looked in the mirror and I thought grow it yourself silver jewelry. And felt I'm going to look as pretty as I remember my mother looking. And to realize what a gift she had given me by not having discussed her own aging. If I'm immensely fortunate to have had that and many people didn't have that many people had parents, who as they aged doesn't have anything good to say or protect about the process actor Jason Robards tells of the confusion. He encountered when it came down to defining who's old. I'll tell you something last year the New York instead of driving down, get on a train and I really look like a million bucks, right? I wish I had to go in to do something and I had a blue suit vest tie. I really look good hat Snapper a man I get on a train and if I I just drive you just want to pay my regular fare in the conductor came down and he punched the thing and he said $3. I said really yet. He said here I sit. All right. I mean, I know the guy was a fool and then I looked on that ticket punched. a plus senior citizen disabled Disable, that's it. I've never looked so good. Adding fish punch me up senior citizen disabled to hunt. I got the Grand Central I said, you know something I'm going over and buy a ticket fuck for the way back. I'll buy my ticket now cuz I won't have to buy it tonight when I get home. I bought ticket I said, I I want a senior citizen ticket. I didn't say disabled cuz I was walking and the guy says let me see your driver's license. He didn't believe me. So I had to pull out my driver's license and that car did they give you a 65 of the Red White and Blue on it and you begrudgingly gave me a $3 ticket. So if you see the conduct and be completely different opinion of me. There seems to be a good deal of bewilderment about this subject of Aging when does a person reach the status of being old? Maybe it's time for each of us to examine some outdated assumptions about aging in reality. The graying of America is upon us. There are currently over 65 million people in our country age 50 and Beyond and every six seconds someone celebrates or agitates over the candles on their mid-century birthday cake. There are some negative and very confusing attitudes out there about aging Mary Catherine Bateson and Hugh Downs comment. There's still rampant in our country the Prejudice of believing that older people are not useful that they're not as intelligent that they are that they don't have the same needs and in some cases were the prejudices very high that they aren't quite as human as other people terrible mistake for people to make I think it's a type of prejudice and bounces back because with luck it's sonority that we all join Who said we have As Americans and maybe women even more than men is that we have been being told all our lives that we don't conform to some ideal type. I remember reading Seventeen magazine when I was 17 and knowing I didn't look like that and it took quite a few years before I learned to look around and realize that my peers didn't look like that either and indeed that the people I thought were beautiful didn't look like that. We're at risk of the same kind of process and thinking about AJ on the one hand. There is an old stereotype, which says that no woman. Is attractive over what 30 terrible stereotypes that simply don't recognize the beauty survey aging and then there's the risk of developing another set of stereotypes. I'm of what I call Super Elder. people who are chronologically Into their 60s or 70s, but boy you wouldn't know it and they've just climbed Mount Everest and I look at some of these magazines and I think to myself. Oh, here we go again with 17. Somebody's telling me how I should look and how I should behave and not only cuz I might do that but it isn't me it isn't my way of being beautiful or productive revital. Too much worthwhile in life because all the forces to try to pull us down and destroy us in our cribs and when they aren't sure of childhood and through a mid-life and everything. If you survive that and if you go into old age, then you are the opposite of decrepitude and impairment because you have and the longer you live the more the more you're the opposite and we still tend to put age in the same basket as decrepitude in the pyramid which is not only unfair but it's kind of silly the original King Kong. Well, she's in her eighties now a grand and wise lady here's a short piece of my conversation with her. I would say that 90% of people who do grow old and think that that that that is a tragedy and end it just enhances their problems. When you know in other cultures there is there's a reference for a job at a friend of mine told me that he was in a foreign country where somebody said I haven't seen you for so long and you look so old you got all that great and his response was. Oh gosh. I mean that's what is internal response. And then he realized you listen to the tone of voice and it was with with great excitement while you're finally one of the elders. You're right. I I knew a great commentator whose I had a lot of respect for and I think everybody did but I I know that people around him were warning him that now he was getting older and now he was going to have to compete with younger minds and now he might have to get it to pay now. He might have to make a call. Those moves that that indicate that and that youth is what counts. I did not like to hear because the older I got the more wisdom I could get from him but maybe things are beginning to change says Mary Catherine Bateson. If we're fortunate we can expect levels of health and energy that makes those years are all the different experience than they have been for previous generations so that we're discovering In a real sense new stages of life that weren't available to so many people in the past. So how do we learn to be an elder writer and Pioneer radio drama producer Norman Corwin offers his thoughts new reach instinctively for those models of successful and most always in the creator sets successful age Verdi. You think I used to write well into old age. and Michelangelo and you you hold those up as models. Certainly, those distinguished and esteemed individuals who created masterpieces in their late years are historical role models for some but to grow to maturity in the 1990s. It seems we might benefit more from the wisdom of our contemporaries Rollo May dampen, my possibilities. It just makes them sore. You have to accept your own personality your own difficulties your own problems. But once you do then it's as though everything moves mfk Fisher. I heard moments of being by myself and kind of charging my batteries, but I think you're more aware of that as you get older. You really have to charge him a bit deliberately instead of just counting on unlimited electrical energy unlimited whatever it is. I like to be alone, but I'm never lonely William Manchester. I see fewer people. I read your books have I read the books. I do read very challenging the work that I do I think has a smart Dimensions if you aren't as impatient as you were as a child. You don't throw an acorn in the ground say where's my tree and you do gain wisdom and you hopefully have worked out a way to live happily Ossie Davis. I would say life comes a lot easier. If you maintain your sense of humor, I believe that humor is divine. I think it's one of God's greatest gifts. It enables us to put things into perspective and to understand that we're we are very large and we also very small Mary Catherine Bateson as you live with yourself for more years, perhaps become and some ways more transparent to yourself getting to know oneself better so that the interior life becomes more companionable. Also said that you make allowances for yourself you to LaShawn. I think what I think I think about old age. Is that for the first time you have a chance to have it in our life if you're raising children and and you're running around you have PTA meetings in your working and everything else is very little Pepsi generation mentality. People say 20 year old body normally because first of all to be 20, you would have to have the whole ball game, you know, you made it to a certain point you're not uneasy about all those years that you had because you had them in nothing to take that away linklater. We can do the best we can and then attitude is generally derived from self-esteem and self-esteem comes from a recognition that you've done the best you can with what you have not that you're richer or more powerful and more famous than anybody. Or even the people, you know, but that you did with what God gave you and what life gave you the best you could and you look at the good things that have happened to you and they've been good and bad for everybody Frances Lear last time. I remember quite vividly when I turn 60 and I said to myself this is the moment when one starts looking ahead and Counting now, I see the time ahead of me and what I would like to accomplish in that time, and I think that's why we become more focused Stanley Kunitz age finishing. A barriers when can take greater risks at a certain point because you've tested yourself time and time before you know what you can do, you know better than anyone else and who's the stop you from daring to do something that is not expected from you. Frances Lear whatever in you is negative or dark fight it and turn it around and make it positive Art. Linkletter been said the great song one said many years ago emphasize the positive and eliminate the negative but being happy is what keeps you young you have to find out what makes you happy and then I'll just hope that it is legal Mary Catherine Bateson. That the people who are best prepared for the aging process are the people who sometime in their 40s or 50s stop before they feel they're in a major midlife crisis before they feel as if they're trapped. Stop take a breath. Begin something new take out long trip somewhere long thoughtful vacation. Go back to school and learn a new skill the best to send my classes are over 50. I have to tell you and then they will have said to themselves. I have not committed myself to one adult role but I will hang on to with teeth and Nails until I despair of doing so they will have said to themselves that they are growing changing learning beings. And I live in a time of Beginnings as well as ending. Sometimes wisdom and insight come when we least anticipated and from unexpected sources while working on a book. She was reading on the subject of middle-aged Eda, leshan and educator family counselor and author learned a life lesson at a dinner party and I was sitting next to a man who was the oceanographer at what's Hall and I talked about I don't know nothing about what's under the sea questions and we got very interested and he obviously would love to talk about his work and at one point the conversation, so did you think about the fact that there are two pound lobsters and there are 3 lb lobsters and their 12 lb lobsters and 6 is over so he and he said this and I said, I'm sorry, but it really has never been very high on my list of priorities to wonder about that and he said well, I'm going to explain it to you. He said lobsters know when they have to do shell. That they get real crowded inside the 3lb shell and that terribly uncomfortable you whatever they feel. I don't know but it's not possible to go on living they'll die. If they saying that she'll so what they do is go out to the Sea which is very dangerous. They might get hit by a wreath. They might be eaten by another Lobster or fish but they deshell that whole hard shell comes off and that pink membrane that's inside grow inside becomes a hard shell but a bigger one. And I was so preoccupied with us and I kept thinking about it and I thought that's the most interesting thing. I couldn't forget it. I dreamt about it. Finally. I mentioned it to my therapist and she said either that's what you're writing this book about going to the reef. Even if it's dangerous and that really has been my philosophy of Life at any agent is certainly is now that should take what you know, if you if you stay stifled Where You Are It's just so you know, you're dead before you did a reminder that our challenge is to remain open flexible and believing that continued growth is not only possible in our later years, but imperative learning is an ongoing process. It doesn't happen in school. Unless you want to call the school of Life a school then it happens all the time. I enjoy things and in a way, I never did before sensations of living or more Vivid now but deeper and deeper I think would have happened with aging as I've grown more tolerant of differences. I find that I am acted in Kinder and and more forgiving to people and not condemning to the point where I realize that you don't have to hate anybody what has come upon me is a very slight degree of Tranquility. So I think age for me tends to make me a little more humble. I'm always always always able to be in all I'm always able to to have a sense of wonder. I learned finally that the whole idea of piling up more more more on top of more more more. It's a rather fruitless occupation that at this thing start of simplify Simplicity is an objective that you must woo that you must continually use as a guideline. I find this age absolutely treasurable. I think I have changed I've gotten lions and and sometimes I pull back and think or do that would but I put my face back so that would be a kind of bland face. I wouldn't really want that. Like my lines more strongly in touch with the realities much more deeply in touch with the unrealities you adjust your expectations. You know what you're good at and you don't waste your time trying to do the things you're not good at 9 ever saw myself as an old woman until I became an older woman. I was terribly unhappy 30 years ago. My life changed dramatically totally profoundly when I was 60. I became free. This is the best time of my life. You know that it took me a long time. You know, I mean that it would be nice if it's just a better time. I think they cause now there's a payoff the icing on the cake and I find that on the platform before an audience at 90 years of age. I can be just as alive as I was at 40 a person who grows old has experience of my life and I would see that it went has held its really wonderful to grow old but I have to do to do that as hang around. I am as curious as I ever was I have as much work to do everyday anymore. I got can't wait for the day to begin and then get going it's very important to me. The only thing I care about really is learning and sensing and being part of the world. I live in seeing it and observing it and marveling at it. You don't have wisdom and some real know how by the time you get to be in the 70s and 80s 90s and hundreds or it's been a loss. I think everybody over 75 should have an honorary doctorate degree in life. One of them wonderful things that my husband gave me was a line that's said to me he was younger than I but he used to always said they're the age. Agent and the Ageless and you said ageless wasn't that a gift. Was that a beautiful thing to say? That's something we could all say to ourselves. I do not feel any age. There is no age to the spirit. Age of self is no barrier to creativity and maintaining a positive attitude towards the future. In fact, there's much to say in Praise of age. Yep, aging with maturity Grace and wisdom doesn't eliminate the reality of increased vulnerability to illness and Frailty diminished energy and is Shakespeare put it the heartaches and the Thousand natural shocks. That flesh is heir to Norman Corwin Catherine coup in Hume Cronyn. I have fears and anxieties of the turning me into a form of anger about growing older. I don't see as well only have one eye but that's in that even if I had to I just simply don't see as well. I don't hear as well. It's me that I cannot do the physical things. I used to do 25 years ago, you know, they're going to come days in your life. And you say I know that tooth is going to come I have to come out. I got to get my glasses strength since I got to have another prescription. Why does my back hurt all the time? God dammit? I'm getting older the worst thing about growing old as this is the arosen is the failing sight the failing the failing. My mind constantly outstrips my body. My body is not worth two cents. In fact, if I could just take the whole darn thing toss it out of the window and just keep this part and my eyes, I think I'd be very happy. But the fact that I have to live with this sauce. So worn out Old Rag of a mechanism is very difficult. I think the first and most important Advantage is that you're not anymore at least as I used to be terrified of that. I was most people are whether they admitted or not so much of our Lives revolve around the mystery apprehension and fear of death we go to Great Lengths to ensure our survival we look for ways to retard the aging process and prolong life nevertheless. Each of us will experience in some form personal lost during our lifetime and each of us will ultimately experience our own. It's an unalterable reality of life yet facing that reality and whatever personal way works for an individual can remove that burden of fear and seems to be the key for seeing life's transitions as a quest not a crisis thoughts on this subject from Art Linkletter either LaShawn Artie Shaw Stanley Kunitz Mary Catherine Bateson. Rollo May Norman Corwin Katherine Krueger and Jason Robards. I can't barely I do not like being here forever to be there's no question. You got to go. That's the one undeniable fact, there's a time for everything and there's a time to go to the dentist. Perhaps a greater acceptance of the whole phenomenon of dying as well as a living as being part of the whole wheel of nature to the life process. No one. Who cannot acknowledge their own death can be in sympathy? With nature in the broadest sense. Once you say I refuse to acknowledge that I'm going to die you are at war with nature. They're plotting will get him. Let's invite him. We'll give him this cocci or that cocci Joan of cocci. Are you? Okay, whatever I'm just going to go along as I am. I have no other plans what is there to do? So you said yourself have learned all this stuff and I'm going to die like that idiot on the street and I'll be just as dead as he is, so I can't believe that's the one question. That's the one point. I cannot get my mind around. I can't make myself believe there is no purpose and I ask myself all the time. Why are you bothering why because something in me makes me whatever that is is as close to a definition of what soul all those words people use the psyche whatever that is that's there and I can't argue cuz it's up. And as long as that keeps operating I have to believe there's some reason by the fact that we all die and time catches up with us. All the acceptance of that. Destiny is an essential part of our capacity to create and you realize that that you will. And dying is not such a terrible thing. I matter fact, I would hate to be immortal. One of the good life time is is enough if one has lived not wastefully if one can look back and say well I had a good time. Well, I pulled my weight when when you pass 70 and you begin to look at those numbers. Don't you realize that could happen any day really and the the the Dred which I think we all have and suppress of Extinction a seems to be more accommodated Age Death itself becomes implicit in your voice. It becomes your scene in An Intimate way, and so you're exploring new territory and there is that that close Embrace between your life and your dad but you never had before. The I don't happen to have any religious Faith at all. I don't know why but I envy people who do I wish I had but I don't so therefore I believe that your life is the one thing you're given. And I think therefore you just have to wrap enjoy it. It's the one it's your gift and use it. Art Linkletter, we were confronted with the death of my daughter which was probably a watershed in my life. and we're a beautiful 19 year old girl took her own life, which is a sadist and the most dramatic and and really the most unacceptable thing that can happen to a human being to have your own child take her life for his life. And at that point the family rallied around me and I had to be strong and a few years later my 32 year-old Second Son. Robert was killed in a tragic automobile accident. And once again the family rallied around and I had to be the one who tried to make sense out of this. terrible loss and in struggling to do this my life changed and I began as a matter of fact a new career as a lecturer, but also, I began a new career as an advisor in a counselor too. Many many people who are undergoing unbearable tragedies. I find that my mail my personal contacts from that moment on. Have been filled with people who are losing something in life and they come to me as someone that they know has been through it. Never leave you the same you're either going to be diminished or you're going to be enhanced by facing of the tremendous tragedy or tremendous problems, and it's up to you as to which is going to happen to many people who lose others mothers fathers children friends come. people who use this grief as a as a temple for their life, they they cherish it almost a clutch it to the mayor. They never let it go and that grief becomes the impelling force for a negative bitter unhappy vengeful unforgiving life and other people like myself. I think I know. use it as a springboard for Being a better person and for enjoying life more and for appreciating life and all the good things in it as experiences both tragic and joyous come into our lives. The challenge. Each of us face is to Growing our vision and compassion as we age actor Ossie Davis. I know that the material aspect of living in life that must be attended to but I know the material the materials of the world cannot set the values by which the world must live age. Is that point of elevation. From which it is easy or easier to see who you are what it is you want to do? And find yourself closer to the very center of the universe having lived through many changes for many years have seen many public passions rise and fall gives you a sense of continuity and its continuity. That not only is a part of your own View. But that continuity also attaches itself to the continuity of time all together so I can look back and see way back but somehow that enables me to look forward and see Way Forward. Age makes knowledge knowledge with experience and out of that comes the possibilities of wisdom Experience open the door to the possibility of wisdom, but old does not necessarily mean wise we strive to understand. What is true and Lasting to cultivate Insight authenticity Common Sense sensitivity. We contemplate the big questions looking for profound truths yet. Sometimes wisdom peace a deeper spiritual connection is to be found in small experiences simple acts ordinary events that touch the life of the spirit. Creator of peanuts Charles Schulz, I have to be reading something or writing something or being continually active. I do have many evenings where I can go home and just do nothing. I just sit in my big chair and I have my little TV clicker and I run up and down the channels and shoot from one thing to another my dog jumps up on the hassock in front of me and ask for another cookie and I give it to him when he jumps down and I click from one program to another then he jumps up in the hassock anyone to another cookie and I give him another doggie cookie and he jumps down again. And that's her life pretty soon. I know it's 9:30 and it's time to go to bed. I'm great for doing nothing at almost something that has to be learned. I don't see anything wrong with it. I think that Learning to just hang around is it is all right actor Eddie Albert, or should I walk every morning and I here in about four 4:30 in the morning. I walked for about an hour and it's quieter than thinking about these things and looking at the the trees and the stars and the whole universe and it's quiet at that time no cars. So you can improve on your ability to soak that up in your in your bones poet Stanley Kunitz. I loved and still love the sense of growing thing as labor and the beauty of what grows so thrilling that each morning. What happened during the night? It's terribly important to me singer Pete Seeger or look upon God has everything some people say, oh God is in everything. Oh, well, that's a difference of opinion. I look see if I was able to look through a electron microscope see something one millionth of an inch in size. They take the last God's handiwork and poetry the late evening Arium. I guess maybe when I hit 60, that was a very strong benchmark I because I think until then when concerned persuade oneself. That one is in late late late late middle age. And then you get to appoint you say I'm in my seventh decade and while I think I've always had a certain amount of Daily Joy I find even more so now that the sight of a clear sky in New York, which doesn't come all that off or being out in the country are right now in the spring in April where the trees are just the greenest I've ever been and even the colors the people where I filled the senses become heightened. I know the time scientists think that our senses become dim with age, but I think it's just the reverse a love for the ordinary is what is most important as one ages not for the extraordinary there always trips to Bali or Yokohama to get the joy out of Dailiness, that's what struck me when I hit my 60 type of good Heavens. I am getting so much pleasure out of my breakfast. I thought to myself I didn't know grapefruit juice could taste so good and the cereal seemed to me that I just had the right amount of milk in it and the coffee tasted so good and I thought this is really amazing and it says go some kind of sleight film. Over the world has been Stripped Away and there is no Clarity. That one didn't have before actor Ossie Davis. I learned a lesson a long time ago. And the lesson is the way to make a man rich is to decrease as once I learned I learned more and more everyday what not to want to watch it back to me is the Regiment of the spirit ceramic today. I love getting into a hot tub at night before I go to bed. I take graham crackers and milk and I love it and I love always looking at the mountains and I think these are my greatest pleasures. There's honesty and humility in these words into my way of thinking real wisdom. Strangely the simplifying of life's activities offers the opportunity to connect both with a Deeper Self and what some call a higher power as we seek the spiritual we must continue to grow and explore to learn and unlearn Mary Catherine Bateson. I wonder what it is that people mean when they say spiritual What is coming to mean to me is it changed quality of attention both Inward and outward listening looking tasting meditating learning is a form of spirituality. It isn't opening of yourself to new information organization ideas. These are not material things and beyond that learning involves something that is often recognized as intrinsic to spirituality learning requires a degree of humility. You have to know that you don't know in order to learn something new. You have to know that you don't know as you walk through the woods in order to see something new around you and oddly. You have to know that you don't know just when you're quiet and alone by yourself to let some new recognition grow within you. Now that's not at all the usual definition of spirituality and yet it seems to me once you say that that learning is is a spiritual a tremendously powerful connection to make it simply to be willing to learn is to go into a Sacred Space and to go into it to know with take your shoes off before you go in. There are many paths that connect us with other human beings and there are similar pads that connect us more fully with ourselves. The road is called loves his actor Eddie Albert jeans and said one time the same energy that holds the galaxies in their orbits is the energy that mankind calls love as type of the Jesuit to learn French. He said someday after a man has tamed all these energies the tides the winds gravity and so forth. He will turn his mind toward the study of the energy of love and for the second time in man's history. He will have discovered fire when people are loving Brave truthful charitable got his presence is Rabbi Harold Kushner. One Last Story on learning life's lessons Beatrice wood My life is just full of mistakes and they're like pebbles the beggar good road. We need people with walls and I think it's important to meet people without balls. Now if I was ill and have to be in the hospital for 3 Days mostly to rest. All right, I found myself with an old hag. I think more Les toothless with an accent now, I needed sleep. So I went to sleep and this poor creature chatted chatted and I was mad the next day when I had already said to myself. I'm not nice to this poor woman. She needs somebody to talk to I must be more decent to her. So when afternoon came I got off my high horse and listen to her and she's had a heart attack. She was all alone frightened to death and in a state of crisis. I saw this I listen to her the next day. I was leaving and I developed myself into kind of decency. So I sat on her bed and I talked to her and I said look. I will speak to the doctor about you when I leave. I will phone you everyday and that meant something to her. So I left the next morning. I phoned and talk I said I'll phone you tomorrow. Don't worry. I'll keep in touch with you because she felt absolutely bereft and alone the day after that. I went to Ventura and coming back. I was terribly tired and I said to myself I must go see that old woman. I didn't want to but I went I sat on her bed and she appreciated that is strange. It was befriending her. I said on my bed. I took her hand. I looked at her. And this ugly old woman to my astonishment was beautiful. There was no war between us. It was a wonderful experience for me. You see, we're all really one and that one that's between us I touched and when I left I said goodbye and the next morning I phoned and they said you can reach it. She died during the night. And it was so wonderful to me because I was sure she died knowing somebody cared now. You see the arrogance of the artist who did not want to be disturbed. I threw that in the DS can and without the wall met another human being and that ugly human being became beautiful. And this is one of the most important experiences and lessons of my life. This business of living of moving through the world with vitality and zest in humor and joy is mostly about Courage the courage to look at your life with honesty and to take the necessary steps at any age on any stage to embrace and brighten the world around you where here cradle mysteriously between Time and Eternity. And yes much of our destiny is beyond our control capricious vexing and baffling yet much of it is not we do have choice and it is in this Arena that the Quest for a deeply rewarding later like can be made How can we sum up the wisdom of these many ageless Spirits whose words can give us a parting message to take with us as we embrace our own aging. I've entrusted this mission to Artie Shaw now in his mid-eighties and going strong there. Only three questions and here they are. Who are we where do we come from where we going? And those are all I've got the time to try to find out the answers to I think that's all it's about. We're here to search we pass this way. But once you pay attention and sharing the private thoughts of public figures, we come to discover their concerns and feelings are nothing less than a mirror for our own experience of all that it can mean to grow old to see aging as a quest not a crisis a time to grow and learn and live life to the fullest to discover our ageless spirits.