The first adage that gets trotted out early in any conversation about old age is, “Well, it beats the alternative.” The second, generally attributed to Bette Davis, is “Old age is no place for sissies.” Which, if you stop to think about it, is not just creepily homophobic but utterly ridiculous. If there were some purgatorial holding pen for the faint of heart, it would be awfully crowded.
It does take courage to face the very real losses that accompany long life. The anti-intuitive but welcome fact is that just about everyone musters that courage. The psychological benefits of old age—superior coping skills, contentment, feelings of self-awareness and liberation—are conveyed to “sissies” and bullies alike, along with the rest of us. Old age doesn’t discriminate. All we have to be to get there is lucky.