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New Concept English 4-11

What, according to the author, is the best way to overcome the fear of death as you get older?


How to Grow Old

Some old people are oppressed by the fear of death. In the young there is a justification for this feeling. Young men who have reason to fear that they will be killed in battle may justifiably feel bitter in the thought they have been cheated of the best things that life has to offer. But in an old man who has known human joys and sorrows and has achieved whatever work it was in him to do, the fear of death is somewhat abject and ignoble. 

The best way to overcome it — so at least it seems to me — is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly emerged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at the first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, in the end, without any visible break, they become emerged in the sea, painlessly lose their individual being. 

The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will be not unwelcome. I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do, and content in the thought that what was possible has been done. 


oppress: make sb. feel unhappy, worried or uncomfortable

  • The nightmare oppressed me.
  • The patient is oppressed by the fear of death. 
  • depress, suppress, impress
  • feel blue / down in the dumps / depressed / dejected
  • I’m low in spirits.
  • In the old society, the Chinese people were in the miserable position as the oppressed, the enslaved and the exploited. 


  • There is no justification for holding her in jail. 
  • justice justify 
  • a justifiable / reasonable / legitimate explanation / excuse

bitter adj. painful, sorrowful

  • shed bitter tears

cheat sb. (out) of sth = deprive sb. of sth.

  • He cheated me (out) of $100. 
  • rob/deprive/strip/divest sb. of sth
  • confiscate sth
  • trick sb. out of sth
  • swindle sb. out of sth
  • defraud sb. of sth


  • You’re cheating!
  • He cheated in the test by using a calculator. 

cheat on sb. 

  • He cheated on his wife. 

deceive (with goodwill)

  • The doctor deceived the patient by not telling him the truth. 

know: v. experience; see

  • China has known many wars. 
  • The city must have known prosperity. 
  • He has seen better days. 

joys and sorrows: ups and downs

somewhat: to some extent / degree

abject: pathetic, pity

at least = at any rate

id ego super-ego

  • egotism, egoist,
  • altruism, altruist
  • egocentric = self-centered
  • ego, egoic, egoistic,  individualism

recede, recession, precede, procession

  • The flood waters finally began to recede. 
  • He was in his mid-forties, with a receding hairline. 
  • cede territory
  • precede, proceed
  • exceed one’s expectation
  • Many in Quebec want to secede from Canada. 
  • intercede

passion (for….)

  • religious / revolutionary passion
  • his passion for the girl / music
  • a passionate supporter / admirer
  • enthusiasm for ; enthusiastic
  • ardor for, ardent
  • fervor for, fervent
  • zeal for, zealous
  • damp / dampen one’s ~ for ….

weariness, fatigue

  • weary; fatigued; exhausted, tired out, dog-tired, worn out, drained, beat, bushed
  • teary, bleary, dreary

vitality n. energy and strength

  • He was a small man with enormous vitality. 
  • economic vitality
  • vigor: Despite her great age, Anna is full of vigor. 
  • vital, vigorous
  • vital signs 
  • crucial / essential
  • energetic, dynamic

bit by bit: little by little, by degrees, inch by inch, gradually

become/be emerged in; be blended in 



Title: How to Grow Old (with a positive attitude)

  • Author: Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel laureate
  • Books: The Principles of Mathematics, A History of Western Philosophy. 

Many people are oppressed by the fear of unemployment / inflation. 

  • Many Chinese people are oppressed by the fear of being unable to afford the medical, educational and housing expenses. 

There is a/no justification for …

  • In this condition, there is a justification for intervention. 
  • there is no denying that  …
  • there is no doubt that …
  • there is little / every likelihood that …
  • there is no shortage of … 
  • Perhaps there is a great deal / an element of truth in both these pictures, but few of us have had the opportunity to find out.  

in the thought that = because they think 

  • in the belief = because they believe

at the thought of = once they think of sth. 

  • at the idea /sight/mention/sound/news  of 
  • at the mere mention of 
  • … your stomach would turn at the idea of frying potatoes in animal fat. …

it is in sb. to do sth.: be able to do sth.; sb. has features of sth.; within sb’s ability

  • He doesn’t have it in him to break his word. 
  • In him, I see a future leader. 

so it seems. 

to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal

  • to broaden / expand your interests / horizons gradually
  • to meet like-minded people
  • Don’t indulge in solitude
  • Don’t be ego-centric
  • Make yourself liberal and sociable

banks: family and social environment (childhood and adolescence)

boulders and waterfalls: adversity and success (youth and middle age)

the banks recede: middle age -> old age

become emerged in the sea: the last journey of one’s life

the thought of rest: death (euphemism)