I’ll start with the good news – our minds and spirits never ever grow old; they are ageless, timeless and endless. Our spiritual qualities include kindness, friendliness, humility, gratitude, goodwill, peace, harmony and love. If you generate these qualities in daily life, you’ll always remain young.
Those who believe that life is a mere cycle of youth, maturity and old age; that there is no hope, no vision, no meaning, are persons full of frustration, cynicism and a sense of hopelessness. So what if you can no longer swim, play tennis or walk fast? Ok, so your body has slowed down, but your mind and spirit are still young. Age without complaining because age has its own glory, beauty and wisdom.
Your children and grandchildren have grown up; you’re free of their responsibilities. Now it’s your time to lead your life your way. The rest of the years is your ME-TIME! Do what makes you happy. Above all, never be dependent on your children for your happiness. That’s a short cut to unhappiness. Let them lead their lives. You lead yours with fun, jokes, reading, cinema, plays, books, art-galleries, coffee shops, friends, peace, beauty, good-will, understanding, joy and love. Leave the children to their humdrum life of home to work and work to home.
Our mind (Manashni) is the master-weaver, the designer, the architect and the sculptor. George Bernard Shaw was active at 90. Unfortunately, today, there’s so much emphasis on youth in advertising, cosmetic industry and the media but what’s the use of being young only on the outside? Just look at the stupid answers that beauty-queens give in question rounds! They all parrot the same thing – their admiration for Mother Teresa – I want to do something for society, I want to change the world… and so on! But the next thing you see is that they have signed films!
There are countless ways of taking interest in life. Be open to new ideas, be enthusiastic, creative, continue to learn and grow. This way you’ll always be young at heart because you are hungering and thirsting after new things, making new friends, meeting new people, exchanging ideas.
Cato, the Roman patriot, learned Greek at 80; Socrates learned to play the harp at 81; Michelangelo was still painting his greatest canvases at 82; The German philosopher Goethe wrote FAUST at 83; Tennyson wrote a lovely poem ‘Crossing the Bar’ at 84; Isaac Newton worked hard at 84 and Leopold Von Ranke wrote ‘History of the World’ at 92! There IS hope for senior citizens who should be given every opportunity to experience the joys of old age. Don’t let newspapers or statistics hold a picture of old age, declining years, disabilities, senility and uselessness. Reject all these. Refuse to be hypnotized by such propaganda. Affirm life – not death. Imagine a vision of yourself as happy, radiant, serene, successful and powerful. Never allow your children to talk down to you. If you live your old age with dignity and on your terms, your children will automatically respect you and not exploit you.
Now there are two types of old people. Some are bitter, cranky, dependent, always complaining, possessive and difficult to get along with. Others are happy, independent, full of life, fond of youngsters, open to new ideas and easy to get along with. Only you can choose which type you want to be. In old age, you have so much to give – not by being a cook and ayah to your children but you can advise (only when asked), stabilize and guide the younger generation. You can give the benefit of your knowledge, your experience and your wisdom. You can always look ahead and gaze into infinite life. You can never cease to unveil the glories and wonders of life. Try to learn something new every moment of the day to keep your mind young and fresh with new ideas.
Old age is not a tragic occurrence. What we call the aging process is really change. It is to be welcomed joyfully and gladly as each phase of human life is a step forward on the path which has no end, for we all are souls. Souls are never born, never die and never grow old because they are the eternal spark of God within us. The soul is self-renewing, eternal, indestructible and everlasting. We are all children of God, of Eternity and its entirely up to us as to how young or how old we wish to be!