Work almost always has a double aspect: it is a bondage, a wearisome drudgery; but it is also a source of interest, a steadying element, a factor that helps to integrate the worker with society. Retirement may be looked upon either as a prolonged holiday or as a rejection, a being thrown on to the scrap-heap.
There is only one solution if old age is not to be an absurd parody of our former life, and that is to go on pursuing ends that give our existence a meaning.
Since it is the Other within us who is old, it is natural that the revelation of our age should come to us from outside — from others. We do not accept it willingly.
People are often advised to “prepare” for old age. But if this merely applies to setting aside money, choosing the place for retirement and laying on hobbies, we shall not be much the better for it when the day comes. It is far better not to think about it too much, but to live a fairly committed, fairly justified life so that one may go on in the same path even when all illusions have vanished and one’s zeal for life has died away.
One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation, compassion.
It is old age, rather than death, that is to be contrasted with life. Old age is life’s parody, whereas death transforms life into a destiny: in a way it preserves it by giving it the absolute dimension. Death does away with time.