Almanac: William Haggard on making the most of middle age

INK BOTTLE“He’d been thinking about late middle age, the years which a generous God and good health now offered. They could be fruitful years before death knocked, or a sterile barren decay before the cold. It all depended on how you handled them. It was absurd, no doubt, to pretend to be young: after thirty years of desk work it would be ludicrous to start waving guns. Charles Russell didn’t intend to. What he intended was a calculated avoidance, the avoidance of too much discipline and of over-rigid habits. At sixty one wasn’t elastic still, one had one’s little drills for things and was fully entitled to do so. They made life simpler, they spun out leisure, but what was very dangerous was when the drill became its own reward, not the muddle avoided, the moment saved, but the deadly satisfaction of having completed some trifle efficiently. If that was the trap of old age, its threshold, then Russell had seen it and wouldn’t step over.”

William Haggard, The Hardliners

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