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On Not Growing Old

How working longer may enrich your life

Even on its most exhausting days, journalism keeps my curiosity on its toes. My current series is only in its third month, and already I’ve explored how the growing inequality in America is no accident — it was made to happen by powerful players in Washington and on Wall Street; I’ve read aloud from Spoon River Anthology with Rita Dove, twice our poet laureate; I’ve listened as the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt delved into how conservatives and liberals can talk right past each other without hearing what the other is really saying; I’ve talked to the film historian Neal Gabler about the influence of movies on politics, and vice versa; and I’ve heard one of our master media decoders — Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who heads the Annenberg Public Policy Center — prescribe a way for everyday citizens to fight back against the tidal wave of negative political ads washing over us.

I’m also learning a whole new medium from the young people who created and are running our website. When I started as a journalist, my stories were transformed into print on an ancient linotype machine in the noisy and smelly back shop of the newspaper; who would have thought that 60 years later I would be sending them on video into the far reaches of cyberspace?

Moyers & Company — our present series — will end shortly before my 80th birthday. But stay tuned.

Maybe then we’ll get to the one series Judith and I keep talking about but have never got around to producing: a series on aging. We’re fascinated by what science and experience are discovering about how to maintain high mental and physical ability as we grow older; how to reduce the risk of disease and disability; why attitude matters; and the importance of wonder, surprise and joy.

Meanwhile, I will keep taped to this very computer the words of Tennyson’s great poem, “Ulysses”:

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life!


Bill Moyers hosts the weekly PBS show Moyers & Company and his website, billmoyers.com.

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