Stop saying, “ I am getting old!” Do you know what is the most frightening thing about aging? No, it is not the wrinkled look nor the aches and pains nor the lack of money, it is the lack of passion for life.
When a person grows older and exhibit that ‘Been there, done that attitude’ or lament, ‘ I am too old now’, his or her cup is full- there is nothing else that can thrill them anymore. The world is just a shade of gray.
In my society, when people hit sixty, they qualify as a senior and are accorded some privileges like discounts on medical care, shopping , transport and so on. It is the season to celebrate.
You have time on your hands. Your children are now older and your duties as their parents are done. You have gone through and survive the vicissitudes of life. You know that nothing is really so terrible that you cannot fix as long as you have the fortitude to overcome. It would be great if you still have your health.
But comes sixty, and some ‘older’ people give up trying. It is time to just lay back and enjoy the peace and quiet, for some folks it is after an almost lifetime of struggle. To cut yourself from the corporate world. To be free from the stress of learning new things. But how long can that sustain? Human beings have to continue to strive forward to adapt to the change around us. They need to be engaged with the human race. Life is meant to be a struggle- for betterment of self and society.
When you become too laid back, the world moves forward and soon you really feel that you are isolated. My experience watching others is that some senior people have become very phobic of the digital landscape that they lacked the confidence to leave their homes for their destination, to use the new facilities of the bank, to adjust to new ways of shopping. The outside world has changed but they had stayed stagnant and so become dependent on others which is a regrettable and cumbersome thing.
They become disillusioned when they needed to turn to others to help them to get stuff done. Most of the time, others are coping with the changes and their daily demands as well to put your request as a priority. They become more disappointed and some just withdraw into their own world. It is not too late if you put your time and interest to catch up and start learning. No resting on the laurels all the time.
The best thing as you grow older is never to stop learning and roll with the punches. Take the effort to find out how life is getting better in the modern world and not gripe about the change. Ride on the coat tails of this incredible transformation of our digital age.
Changes come about to make our lives more comfortable and convenient- if only you bother to interest yourself. And do not fear- human beings have great intelligence and propensity to adapt and learn just as they are smart enough to innovate.
One time in Zao of Yamagata, on the beautiful snowy landscape of this resort in Japan, I came across a Japanese couple in their sixties on the observation deck at the highest point of this ski mountain. We all had taken the gondola up. From the gondola, we could see skiers zipped around the frost covered trees known as snow monsters taking in the crisp air and the breathtaking scenery.
From our conversation, I learnt that they have stopped skiing because they had hit sixty. They loved skiing a lot in their younger days but one reason for stopping this sport is that they think that only the younger ones should be doing it. Well, their contemporaries have also retired from active sports too. There were no other reasons other than this self limiting thought. It was a pity as they were a physically healthy couple.
At another winter, my husband and I were at the ski resort of Kiroro in Hokkaido. We met an elderly Caucasian male skier, clearly in his seventh decade skiing with relish. We asked him if he had aches and pain in his knees by this age. Of course he had, he said and chronic injuries to boot. Then how did he manage to ski knowing that skiing can be hard on the knees? He revealed that he would not let anything get in the way of what he loves to do be it age, or physical handicap as long as he was still mobile. Then he revealed his knee replacements that had enabled him to continue his sport . We were indeed inspired by his attitude to enjoy his life.
Similarly, while doing muck diving in Indonesia, I was charmed by an elderly lady in her seventies who continued to scuba dive for leisure. This lady had travelled solo all the way from Canada. I was inspired and told myself I am going to live life to the fullest!
Currently, I have passed sixty a year ago. At my gathering with friends or colleagues, conversation always veered towards aging and its limitations. More talk ensued about finding what is or will go wrong with the body. Then the updating of who had gone before us. Some have forgone physical activities for passive ones to prevent injuries. I guess it is alright as long you are enjoying your new activity but not to stop something because it is the trend to do so at this age.
Given that the life span of elderly can now stretch into the eighties and nineties, I think it is important that as we grow older, our passion do not dim. Not when you love to do that something. Twenty more years is a long time.
When one just turns senior based on a chronological number, I feel the need to do more. The time will come when you would naturally not want to do any more of what you have loved or clearly it is contraindicated or you would have found new interests. But meanwhile, I think it is quite regrettable to look back and tell yourself, “ I wished I had…”
We should take a cue from passionate older people. The world is a beautiful place and we should continue to explore and marvel at nature and the spirit of some human beings. Do not let age limit your imagination. Be inspiring to the young as they embark on their life’s journey and see it as a beautiful one with limitless possibilities.
As we grow older, we become better not bitter.
I would like to share this short quote by Dylan Thomas;
Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at the close of day
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.