Lessons in ageing, from mother to daughter


The New Dance Group: early modern dance in New Zealand 

“I was lucky. My mother taught me about growing old,” said my friend.

“That’s interesting,” I said, thinking about my friend’s mother, now deceased: a brilliant, determined woman with a clear vision, years ahead of her time in the causes she fronted. She introduced modern dance to New Zealand. She fought for peace and workers’ rights. She was part of a small group that alerted New Zealand to the very existence of our nation’s founding document, The Treaty of Waitangi, not to mention its content and significance. In other words, an extraordinary woman with seemingly infinite energy and strength.

Ageing must have come hard to such a dynamo!

“What do you mean, she taught you?”

“She would sit me down and make me listen: ‘This is what it’s like to grow old.’ I was young, I was sure it would be different for me, but she would insist that I listen.”

“So what did she teach you?” I asked, curious. Here’s what my friend replied.

  • “You learn what you can and can’t do.
  • “You can push yourself as far as possible, but that’s not necessarily the best thing. If you keep on pushing yourself past your limit, you end up annoying everyone.
  • “You have to slowly learn to give way and give up. It’s a loss, but if you don’t, you’re pissing everyone off, and also doing yourself no good.
  • “I became far more aware of my body, and of what I did and didn’t want to do. I’m old enough not to have to oblige. I just make a quick decision — otherwise I just mull and mull, and that is bad for you.”

Different teachers, different truths. I think this advice is valuable for me right now.

It’s so puzzling to notice your previous interests, energy, activities, and focus have begun to change of their own accord.  This wise woman took charge of those changes simply by acknowledging their reality, and choosing how to respond. Thus she maintained her dignity, self-respect and grace. I’d like to do this too.


8 thoughts on “Lessons in ageing, from mother to daughter

  1. toutparmoi says:

    Wise words!

  2. lifecameos says:

    Wow ! She was so right and so succinct !

  3. bone&silver says:

    Yes, I must also agree completely. Even friends who are mid forties still have more ‘push’ than me; I’m only 51, but something definitely changes (& I’m above average fitness & wellness I’d say). She sounds very wise indeed 🙏🏼

    1. Not easy to accept, is it? Mind you, Those changes may be temporary… or beneficial… or at least interesting.

  4. cedar51 says:

    No one ever sat me down about these matters, and I’m not sure I would have taken any notice anyway…I do what I “can” – sometimes that annoys people for quite different reasons…or maybe they don’t even notice until they realise “whatever it was initially it’s already happening and they can’t still it…” (I thought it should be “distill it”] but maybe that’s probably going to shoot the scenario back into annoyance

    1. Interesting to think about these processes. Everyone is different.

  5. Brilliant, utterly brilliant. So true.

  6. Thank you Lindsay! I think so too. And inevitably, it’s exactly the advice that I need myself.

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