Wanna Age Exuberantly?

Feb 06

Have I got a book for you!

It’s called The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly by Margareta Magnusson. (You don’t get more Swedish than that!)

She also wrote a bestseller called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (How’s that for a title?), about clearing out our stuff (see the George Carlin clip below), so that we don’t leave a mess for our heirs. I’m with her: most of us have way too many things, and whether we’re about to leave the planet or merely take a trip to Ikea, we really need to get rid of some stuff.

So, since she’s right on the clean-up thing, I decided to plunge in and order her book on aging. Besides, the review said that she writes things like:

“You can be young upstairs in your head even if your joints creak.”

Well, I don’t have an upstairs per se since I live in a New York apartment (or should I say “flat?”), but I don’t think she meant that literally. In any event, I like the sentiment, and honestly folks, it’s what this blog is all about!

So I eagerly awaited the arrival of the book. Meanwhile, I decided to revisit the Carlin clip on “stuff,” so here it is for your viewing pleasure.


Not only is this exuberantly funny, but it made me want to go back to Maui, nostalgic for a time when I was truly exuberant. And then some.

But that was then, and this is now.

At this point, we’re all just trying to be as exuberant as our age and situation permit. So let’s do it by the book. Which I now have in my hot little hands. It turns out to be a sweet, gentle little volume, very . . . Swedish, and it’s mostly about the author’s life and memories. Who, BTW, is charming in that special Scandinavian way. I have this fantasy that she will come to New York, we’ll go Bjork’s Cafe, and she’ll tell me all her little secrets in person.

Meanwhile, the book begins by pointing out that the life expectancy when the author was born means that by all rights she should be long gone by now. Sigh. That’s something I’ve thought of more than once myself. We’re both living on borrowed time. Or, as I like to think of it— having spent more than a few hours in various and sundry casinos—we’re playing with house money.

Undaunted, she proceeds to give us tidbits of practical advice, some of which we already know: Hang around with younger people. Volunteer. Don’t fall, but get exercise. Get rid of those cataracts, even if it means you will see yourself, in all your wrinkled glory, more clearly. Take care with your appearance, especially your hair if you have any, and if you don’t, get a wig. But don’t get plastic surgery! “It doesn’t make you look younger, just that you’ve had plastic surgery.” (We call it cosmetic surgery these days, but no matter.)

She also offers some philosophical advice, such as: Enjoy the day because you don’t how many more you have, no matter how good your genes are.

All nice. But exuberant?

Sorry, Margareta, but I was thinking more like dying your hair chartreuse or giving the kind of parties that infuriate your neighbors and impress the doormen. Or adopting a llama. Or taking up big wave surfing. Or putting together a standup comedy routine. Or taking a lover half your age. I wouldn’t actually do any of these things, but still.

I guess that my take on the word “exuberant” is not the same as her very Swedish definition. And why should it be with a name like Fortunato?

I did find some stuff I could really relate to in this book, like “Eat chocolate,” as the crumbs on my computer from my recommended daily dose of two Mallomars attest to. And I was really surprised that she advocated wearing stripes. I am wearing them right now, as I often do, and believe that they do something for the psyche. They’re crisp and bright. Even when you’re not. Think of Picasso on the Riviera in those famous long-sleeved tees. Now, that man was audacious, not to mention exuberant. BTW: He wasn’t Swedish.

So although this book was very pleasant reading,  I am left with the feeling that I will have to find my own ways of being exuberant. Not a problem. It’s something I’ve been doing for lo these many (unlisted) years that I’ve been on the planet.

And these days, whatever I do, I don’t have a lot to lose. I’m definitely playing with house money.


  1. Lucille /

    George Carlin is still the best. Having seen this skit once, no one will ever look at their “stuff” in the same way. And I’ve seen it many times.
    About being “exuberant,” being in the age range for this blog, I’ll settle for “cheerful.” On a good day. Or “not too grouchy” the rest of the time.
    I’m not Swedish either.

    • Yes, Carlin is irreplaceable. And I get what you mean: simply NOT being a curmudgeon is sometimes as “exuberant” as we can manage.
      But don’t get bitter!

  2. Sharon /

    Let’s discuss stripes! There are good stripes and bad stripes. Everyone knows that horizontal stripes make you look fat. If you want to remain exuberant stick to vertical stripes! Also since you are living on ‘house money’ can I borrow some?

  3. You can borrow my vertical stripes!

  4. Not sure what exuberance has to do with clearing out your stuff. I have plenty of exuberance but according to George I still have a shitload of stuff. 🤷‍♀️

    • We all do! At least some of your stuff is nice.
      I think the author is saying that if you get rid of the clutter you can do other things that you enjoy.
      Whatever. I just liked the title.

  5. Louis Venezia /

    Didn’t the author make a journey to the center of the earth? Oh, sorry, my mistake, that was Count Saknussemm in the film version of the Jules Verne novel

    • So easy to get all these Swedes confused. NOT! But the Count does sound like an exuberant fellow.

  6. Delores Lake /

    When I think about age (83) and how much time we have left, I think about a video clip of Woody Allen’s mother, Lettie Kronigsberg. During an interview, Lettie says to the cameraman,”Okay, that’s enough now. Go home.”
    Some days that’s exactly how I feel…That’s enough now.

    • I hope you have some days when you DON’T feel that way.
      As for me: at some point (but not anytime in the near future), I want to tell the world, “It’s been fun, folks, but the party’s over.”
      BTW: Ya think Woody got some of his attitude from Lettie?

  7. Dodie Lake /

    For sure! And they’re both funny looking.
    I just read your Norah Ephron piece again. We could all use another funny book of your antics so just ignore that guy & get to it!

    • I’m thinking of doing a My Age is Unlisted book, but I have to get more material.
      Maybe I’ll include some comments this time.
      Thanks for the compliments.

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