Well-prepared for old age

Milton Glaser on "10 Things I Have Learned (2002)"


One night I was sitting in my car outside Columbia University where my wife Shirley was studying Anthropology. While I was waiting I was listening to the radio and heard an interviewer ask ‘Now that you have reached 75 have you any advice for our audience about how to prepare for your old age?’ An irritated voice said ‘Why is everyone asking me about old age these days?’ I recognised the voice as John Cage. I am sure that many of you know who he was – the composer and philosopher who influenced people like Jasper Johns and Merce Cunningham as well as the music world in general. I knew him slightly and admired his contribution to our times. ‘You know, I do know how to prepare for old age’ he said. ‘Never have a job, because if you have a job someday someone will take it away from you and then you will be unprepared for your old age. For me, it has always been the same every since the age of 12. I wake up in the morning and I try to figure out how am I going to put bread on the table today? It is the same at 75, I wake up every morning and I think how am I going to put bread on the table today? I am exceeding well prepared for my old age’ he said.

Glad to know that being a freelancer is preparing me for my old age 😉

Via BoingBoing

4 Responses to “Well-prepared for old age”

  1. Anonymous

    Full-time jobs …… are a relic of the past industrial age. Before the late 19th century, few people had jobs but many had trades, skills and professions. Our children won’t have any idea what a permanent job is. We just happen to be living in the transitional period and can see the past and future of employment.

  2. Anonymous

    People think this is crazy (a
    People think this is crazy (and sometimes I do as well), but when we left Calgary (where at the time getting a job was like falling off a log) to move to Vancouver Island (where sometimes even a PhD won’t guarantee you can get a job flipping burgers) one of my motivations was to go to a place peopled with folks who often end up having to be very resourceful when it comes to livelihood.

    Maybe it’s becoming the same all over, but my impression of living on the islands (which has since only been reinforced) is that you have to be inventive and resourceful if you want to stay, because in the end there just aren’t that many plum 9-5 lifelong career jobs to begin with. And sure enough, when my plum ‘full time’ job ended and I headed towards consultancy, it seemed like a step in the right direction, towards increasing resourcefulness and inventiveness. Ask me again when the consulting jobs dry up and maybe I’ll feel different, but any expectation of the job just ‘being there’ has vanished for me, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Cheers, Scott Leslie.

  3. jane

    I think the fact that I am reading your blog at 21:40 local time proves that I don`t have a job,I have a career. When you work for yourself it is tough but at least you are your own boss. I sympathise with the wage servants who work as hard as me but never have the joy of being in control of their own destiny.


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