Danger: Motorcycling in the Coal Country of Virginia at Age 70

Young couple on a bike

Young couple on a bike

The road was sharply crowned, narrow and steep, and suddenly the Gold Wing starting misfiring, the light panel on the dashboard flashed wildly and then the engine just quit. The motorcycle stopped in the middle of the lane, and I was stuck, really stuck. The bike weighs about 1,000 pounds, and at 70 years old, I could not push it around to get it headed downhill. Continue reading

An Ancient Guide to Aging—Part Two: Sensual Pleasure and Death

Cicero, sensual pleasures and death

Cicero, sensual pleasures and death

Last week I wrote a post on Cicero’s first two points about old age. You may remember that he wrote an essay, On Old Age, when he was 62.

Most of his essay is given to discussion of four reasons for unhappiness in old age. Cicero refutes the notion that old age is necessarily unhappy by offering prescriptions for its common complaints. His first two arguments counter the charges that old age withdraws us from active employments, and that old age takes our bodily strength. His last two deal with sensual pleasures and death.

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Should Old Men Get New Teeth, or Merely Philosophize about It?

Old age comes gradually, yet its arrival is often punctuated by unwanted events, like a visit to a dentist.  So it was for Daniel Klein, author of, “Travels with Epicurus—A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life.” Mr. Klein’s dentist recommended he spend thousands of dollars to buy implants, which would require nearly a year of painful appointments with an oral surgeon and several weeks of living on the equivalent of baby food.  Continue reading

Listening to a Great Old Poet

Donald Hall is experiencing old age with considerable grace. He is an 83-year-old American poet who started writing poetry as a teenager; he was appointed U.S. Poet Laureate in 2006; he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2010; and he is now living on his family farm in New Hampshire. Mr. Hall spends large chunks of time sitting near a window, from season to season, watching his barn and the surrounding grounds, and his bird feeder with it’s frequent visitors. His balance is growing worse, and he occasionally falls. When he was 80, he had two auto accidents, so he quit driving. Continue reading