In his seventies now, a retired police officer whom I know well retains his inimitable gusto and verve. He is forever the gung-ho sort and I often request him to deliver talks to other retired persons in order to motivate them to retain the ‘bounce’ in their hearts.
‘People of my generation are almost in the departure lounge now!’ he says with a guffaw and easily shrugs off the impending finality which is innate in that statement.
Happily enough, he and his ilk is a growing breed these days. It is not uncommon for us to spot an elegant couple well into their 80s enjoying a meal at an upscale restaurant and looking in top form. Those who live in Chandigarh or the vicinity are also used to seeing elderly couples shaking a leg on the dance floor and then enjoying a sumptuous meal at a party. Some of us who are in our middle years hesitate to eat out too often and avoid delicious looking but potentially hazardous eats. But elderly of today can at times be found giving two hoots about the advice of doctors, and why not? Why bother overly about trifles? Balanced living is perhaps the key.
A gentleman of the ‘bindaas’ variety who underwent a bypass surgery at a nearby hospital is said to have asked the surgeon whether a bypass can be repeated if necessary. On receiving a response in the affirmative he is believed to have famously said: ‘Wonderful! I’m going to enjoy my life, my eats and my drinks just as before. I will return to you for another bypass if the need arises!’ I am not sure if the above said philosophy is indicative of a benchmark for all to follow but it does highlight the sheer verve of some of our oldies. What is truly lovable is the fact that some of them undergo medical treatment in the morning and enjoy partying later on the same day!
On being asked about their philosophy towards life they explain that they are grateful to God for everything and are trying to live life to the fullest till the end.
The lesson to be learnt from them is the attitude to life that each of us should adopt. Saints say that an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is the best policy, to be thankful for what we have. Being ambitious is not wrong at all, but savouring what one already has is really important. The police officer referred to above credits the Almighty for all his success and happiness. I have never heard him crib about anything or denigrate anyone. Positivity accompanies him like an aura that the ravages of time have failed to shake off.
Spirited and zesty individuals like him carry the message for society that the elderly are never ‘past it’. They just need the backing and support of their younger ones in order to feel healthy, wanted and loved.
The 70 plus generation does not need to live in fear and can challenge the notion that life virtually ends at that age. Health permitting, they can enjoy the entertainment that this world has to offer till the very last day- sight-seeing, lunches and dinners, satsangas and seminars, kirtans and jagratas, weddings and birthdays! Those who are regulars at meditation sessions are truly inspirational persons.
At times one finds them seated in a fixed posture for hours, despite their advanced years and none the worse after the marathon! They emanate calmness and peace at all times. As a society we need to perhaps remind ourselves that we are all one day going to grow old. We need to care for our seniors just as we care for our children. And the wealth of knowledge and expertise that they possess can surely be better utilised by the nation than is the case now. We must make an extra special effort to love and respect the elderly, not only on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents Day, but throughout the year! Their zest for life will thus receive a big boost.
And that departure lounge will then have to wait a little bit longer!
(The writer is an administrator, author, and motivational speaker)