"i dread to come to the end of the year,said a friend to me recently, "it makes me realize i am growing old.”
william james, the great psychologist, said that most men are "old fogies at twenty-fivehe was right. most men at twenty-five are satisfied with their jobs. they have accumulated the little stock of prejudices that they call their "principles, " and closed their minds to all new ideas; they have ceased to grow.
the minutea man ceases to grow-no matter what his years-that minute he begins to be old. on the other hand, the really great man never grows old.
goethe passed out at eighty-three, and finished his faust only a few years earlier; gladstone took up a new language when he was seventy. laplace, the astronomer, was still at work when death caught up with him at seventy-eight. he died crying, "what we know is nothing; what we do not know is immense."
and there you have the real answer to the question, "when is a man old?"
laplace at seventy-eight died young. he was still unsatisfied, still sure that he had a lot to learn.
as long as a man can keep himself in that attitude of mind, as long as he can look back on every year and say , "i grew," he is still young.
the minute he ceases to grow, the minute he says to himself, "i know all that i need to know,"--that day youth stops. he may be twenty-five or seventy-five, it makes no difference. on that day he begins to be old.