A child wishes to grow up faster, thinking that his or her world will be much better as a grown up. As a child myself, I use to believe that when I am a grown-up, I will no longer have to study or do homework and I can wear anything – no school uniforms. However, it didn’t turn out the way I expected it to be.
Now, in my forties, I am forced to think, “Does growing old make sense?”, “Is life after retirement as exciting as it may have been projected?” – No office, time to travel the world, spend time with family or engage in family welfare and what not… But, I don’t think that is the real picture.
As I landed in Kolkata, it became far more evident that growing old doesn’t really make any sense. It’s not something that one aspires, but it is a fear that looms every adult who has just entered their mid-life. Kolkata is no longer the ‘City of Joy’, but the ‘City of Old’.
One of the biggest fear of all that garners around old age is – “Can we afford a living?”, “Is our savings enough for the old age?”, “Who will foot our bills?”, “Will we become burden to our children?” and many more.
The second biggest fear is mobility, with age your body is not as flexible, you’re most likely to face some or the other health hazard that limits your body functioning and fatigue seeps in. Modern medicine can keep you alive or keep your heart beating but is it the only thing that matters?
How would you feel if one day you wake up and see that you have no teeth instead you have dentures, without it your face doesn’t even look like you? Or you have very little hair left on your head with which you may not even cover your scalp. And the freckles on your skin look much uglier with your sagging skin.
No matter how much your loved ones pacify you, you no longer like yourself, and you pray every day for the restoration of your health and the glory you had once in your youth. You have found ways to hide or laugh at yourself, but deep inside you still want to live and do things like anyone else but only to be disheartened at your state of being.
Old is more like a stigma. The world judges you, and you’ll always find someone who will laugh at you mindlessly without realizing that you are their future. And, therefore you choose to live a life of seclusion; you are engulfed with the fear of embarrassment.
With your vision turning grey, the old age doesn’t even sound exciting. It’s a painful experience of life and to make it worse, your life partner leaves you behind in the world and you are now the only one. Is this how you had imagined your good golden days to be?
With that question, I am heading for a pursuit to find happiness for old age – Samsarana- rebirth in old age.
If you are reading this article, I need your favour, help me connect with 1,000 elderly people, as we need some vital answers. If you meet anyone above 60, kindly ask them their answers to following questions.
- 1. In your youth, how did you imagine your old age to be?
- 2. Now that you are old, what is the one thing that scares you?
- 3. If you were given a chance to go back to your 30’s, would you like to change something?
- 4. What are the things that make you feel good and happy now?
- 5. Do you have a plan for your future?
- 6. Do you think you can still contribute to the society?
Send in your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org along with the details of the person. I thank you for your contribution.