Write Into Life

32 pieces of advice for a 75-year-old

Reposted from 2015. In which various kind people give me personal advice, much of it valuable, all of it appreciated, on how to live my life.


In August 2015 I went on a seven-day cruise of New Zealand’s southernmost fiords with two friends, 29 soon-to-be friends, and six friendly crew. (What, only six? Yes: they were all multi-skilled and worked day and night for our comfort and enlightenment.) This adventure with Real Journeys on the Milford Wanderer is such a rich experience that — so I discovered — half my friends had already taken it.

Preservation Inlet is the most remote fiord, and I felt the name was a good omen for anyone contemplating old age. I wish to be well preserved until I die. (After that, who cares?)

How does the Preservation Inlet cruise fit into the context of my boot camp for the bonus years? It’s not on the list of twelve challenges because it’s my long-standing policy to have an adventure every year, and I have no intention of stopping. That is not a challenge: it’s just fun. The oldest passenger was Jess, a vibrant 92-year-old full of fun and curiosity, who really listens and is fully engaged with the world. Another role model.

But the cruise was certainly a learning experience — we could hardly help becoming enlightened to some degree as we walked in many isolated places saturated in a startling human history. We learned from the experience, the passengers and of course from our guide Chris and the other crew members.

However, if information goes in one ear and out the other, that’s not exactly learning new stuff, is it?

 Lest I forget: a rapid review of tips

On our final evening I toured the common room asking everyone to restate any advice they had given me in the course of the trip. If they couldn’t remember, they gave me new tips regardless. Yay! Now I’m all set. Who could go wrong with advice like this?

Advice on cruising in rough sea and the southern fiords

Tips for bush walking and kayaking

Advice about nutrition

Advice about advice

Old and mostly true (the tips, I mean)

Instantly usable tips

Wisdom from the youngest and oldest

Image from Le Petit Nord, or, Annals of a Labrador Harbour (1920) by Anne Grenfell and Katie Spalding. Public domain.