Old age is not a battle. Old age is a massacre
It is not death that the very old tell me they fear. It is what happens short of death —losing their hearing, their memory, their best friends, their way of life. As Felix put it to me, “Old age is a continuous series of losses.” Philip Roth put it more bitterly in his novel Everyman: “Old age is not a battle. Old age is a massacre.” With luck and fastidiousness—eating well, exercising, keeping our blood pressure under control, getting medical help when we need it—people can often live and manage a very long time. But eventually the losses accumulate to the point where life’s daily requirements become more than we can physically or mentally manage on our own. As fewer of us are struck dead out of the blue, most of us will spend significant periods of our lives too reduced and debilitated to live independently. We do not like to think about this eventuality. As a result, most of us are unprepared for it.
Yet, certainly, the wise learn many things from their enemies; for caution preserves all things. From a friend you could not learn this, but your foe immediately obliges you to learn it. For example, the states have learned from enemies, and not from friends, to build lofty walls, and to possess ships of war. And this lesson preserves children, house, and possessions.
The present theory then must be considered to be a suggested program or framework for future research and must stand ...
It’s saying no.
That’s your first hint that something’s alive. It says no. That’s how you know a baby is starting to turn into a person. They run around saying no all day, throwing their aliveness at everything to see what it’ll stick to. You can’t say no if you don’t have desires and opinions and wants of your own. You wouldn’t even want to.
No is the heart of thinking.