The Measure of My Days
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Playwright and Jungian analyst Florida Scott-Maxwell explores the unique predicament of one's later years: when one feels both cut off from the past and out of step with the present; when the body rebels at activity but the mind becomes more passionate than ever. Written when Maxwell was in her eighties, The Measure of My Days offers a panoramic vision of the issues that haunt us throughout our lives: the struggle to achieve goodness; how to maintain individuality in a mass society; and how to emerge--out of suffering, loss, and limitation--with something approaching wisdom. Maxwell's incredible wisdom, humanity, and dignity make The Measure of My Days both timeless and timely--an important contribution to the literature of aging, and of living.
because we are so slow in realizing that life was meant to be heroic? Greatness is required of us. That is life’s aim and justification, and we poor fools have for centuries been trying to make it convenient, manageable, pliant to our will. It is also peaceful and tender and funny and dull. Yes, all that. Good things have gone, some good things will always go when new things come, and we mourn. We may mourn rightly, for the outlook is uncertain, perhaps very dark. Destruction is part of
creativity, that is the terrible truth we shrink from, knowing it may be misused. This truth is everywhere, almost too obvious to be felt. It is leaden in the old who are being destroyed by time, and I admit that it takes more courage than I had known to drink the lees of life. My note book shows me how much I mourn. Perhaps the forms of life that are passing should be mourned, and this may be the right role of age. Perhaps our wail should be part of the paean of life that is being lived. I do
been more to it than that”, and he then continues as though he had indeed recalled another aspect of the subject. The sound of speech and pausing for a friend to contribute sound is one of the earliest needs. Sleep would come first, then food, protest perhaps third, then the pleasure in showing happiness and affection, and speech as the fifth solid satisfaction. Silence receives too little appreciation, silence being a higher, rarer thing than sound. Silence implies inner riches, and a
wailing wall, and when I play that grim, comforting game of noting how wrong everyone else is, my book is silent, and I listen to the stillness, and I learn. I am getting fine and supple from the mistakes I’ve made, but I wish a note book could laugh. Old and alone one lives at such a high moral level. One is surrounded by eternal verities, noble austerities to scale on every side, and frightening depths of insight. It is inhuman. I long to laugh. I want to be enjoyed, but an hour’s talk and I
and achieve ourselves. We are truly the vehicles of evolution because under stress we make a decisive choice that creates change, enforced by necessity. Necessity can be cruel, and any generous heart and just mind tries to control the inequalities of circumstance. Great good can come from greater equality, less suffering, a flowering of new talent, new pride, increase in understanding, but there is also a danger now seen and weighed. It is the decrease of individuality on a large scale. Unreal