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Bit of a grey area at work there

india Updated: Jul 17, 2011 00:10 IST

Such charming news this week, that a Texan employer sacked Sandra Rawline, a 52-year-old woman with grey hair. Not because she was bad at her work but because she didn’t colour her hair to look younger like he ordered her to. Why did he employ her in the first place when her hair had gone grey already in her 20s? Or not advertise that only ‘women of colour’ need apply? Perhaps that wasn’t permissible by law. Don’t be absurd, what do you mean, ‘How about rules for how men should look’?

While Sandra gears up to sue, here are a few random thoughts on getting older to help us get perspective against centuries of ageist bad attitude. A sombre thought to begin with, author unknown: ‘Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.’

Like many of us, I always liked Mark Twain and I especially like this: ‘Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.’ Taking that forward, Samuel Ullman says, ‘Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.’ That’s worth making an inspirational poster of in office, wouldn’t you say?

Expanding that idea, Douglas MacArthur, the famous general, said, ‘You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.’

As to which, perhaps truer words were never spoken than these by Jim Fiebig; ‘Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.’

This view backs that up: ‘There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward.’

Oliver Wendell Holmes, the ‘Autocrat of the Breakfast Table’ who charmed my teen years said it well: ‘To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.’

Gorgeous Brigitte Bardot said, ‘It’s sad to grow old but nice to ripen.’

Mind, my personal favourite has always been, ‘Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is optional.’ Which makes me wonder, just entre nous, if Sandra had coshed that Texan with frozen jello, do you think they’d have arrested her for carrying a congealed weapon?

Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture