The Years of Living Dangerously

put aside the bogeys and taboos

Q Dear Miss Abigail:

I am forty-seven years old and my boyfriend of three months is a youthful sixty-five. Many people doubt our relationship will work because of the age difference, but we do great together. I think his son believes I am just a “gold-digger,” but I am not digging for anything except a good, solid relationship. What are the odds that we will last?


A Dear Sherrie:

Stop listening to everyone else and listen to your heart (wow, did I actually just say that?). But seriously. You are certainly old enough to know what is right for you, and if things with your new boyfriend are great, then I say go for it! Do what you want to do! “Live dangerously” and enjoy life! Let’s read along with W. B. Wolfe in his A Woman’s Best Years. And I expect to hear everyone chant “you go girl” and “woo hoo” and “oh yeah” at the end of this passage.

1946: Live Dangerously!

Above all, learn to live dangerously! Life is very short, and the precious minutes seep through the hourglass with unseemly haste. All the more reason why you should put aside the bogeys and taboos that you accepted uncritically in your youth, and seek that which you need to fulfil your life. Seek it bravely. Do not defer living any longer. Take chances! It is better to take chances, it is better to try, to fail, and to try again ~ if you are certain of your goal ~ than to remain in cowardly and unhappy security to live out aeons of regret for lost opportunities.

I wish that the scope of my book permitted me to write down the hundreds of instances that I know of women who, after forty, have determined to take their lives into their own hands ~ and make signal successes of them! I can only outline some of the more dramatic ones to show you what can be done.

I need not recall the thrilling life stories of such women as Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Margaret Sanger, Jane Addams, Henrietta Szold, Edith Wharton, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Myra Hess, Eleanora Duse, Ernestine Schumann-Heink and countless others whose lives and works have added so generously to the sum total of human happiness. These great women, and many others like them, should be the great saints of womankind. . . .

But I am not writing about the great women of history, the Cornelias, the Elizabeths, the great Katherines. Others far better equipped than I have told these stories with beauty and sympathy. I want to sing the praises of women who are saying “Yes!” to life in less dramatic but nonetheless effectual ways. I want to toast the women who go on making the world a somewhat happier place to live in, devoting their time, their energies, often their private resources to the cause of human service. These unsung women, all of them over forty years of age, are carrying the banners of emancipation to the far corners of the world. They are the women who live dangerously ~ the women who refuse to accept bogeys and taboos, simply because they are hoary with tradition!

Source: Wolfe, W. Beran. A Woman’s Best Years: The Art of Staying Young. Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing Co., 1946.
~pp. 234-36~