How Old Would You Be If You Didn’t Know How Old You Are?

Satchel Paige? Wayne W. Dyer? Clarence H. Wilson? Wallace R. Farrington? G. Herbert True? Ruth Gordon? Garson Kanin? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: It is foolish to place restrictive limits on oneself solely based on age. Most activities can be pursued at any age. This viewpoint is encouraged by an inquiry designed for self-reflection. Here are three versions:

(1) How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?
(2) How old would you be if you didn’t know your age?
(3) If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you be?

This saying has been attributed to famous baseball player Satchel Paige, popular motivational author Wayne W. Dyer, and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared within a 1927 sermon described in “The Brooklyn Daily Eagle” of New York. Reverend Clarence H. Wilson of the Flatbush Congregational Church encouraged his audience to adapt a youthful perspective. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

We make ourselves old by keeping tally of the years. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Properly, a man is as old as he feels. . . . Birthdays are an annoyance and a delusion.

QI tentatively credits Clarence H. Wilson with this saying although there is a significant probability that the statement was already in circulation.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading How Old Would You Be If You Didn’t Know How Old You Are?

Notes:

  1. 1927 October 24, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Too Much Checking Up Of One’s Life Is Bad, View of Dr. Wilson, Quote Page 13, Column 3, Brooklyn, New York. (Newspapers_com)