Golden years: The best is yet to be

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By Sumit Paul

After reaching a certain age, looking back, one realises the evanescence of all things. When the Buddha was old and he realised that the time was ripe to leave the world, he called his two favourite disciples and said,  “My days are numbered. Soon, I won’t be with you. I’ve nothing to offer and nothing to preach. I’ve nothing to accept and nothing to expect. All I’ve is the body, which is tattered because of old age. I know nothing of enlightenment.”

This is the wisdom of a mellowed man. It’s like knowledge. A little knowledge makes one arrogant, a little more reasonable and the final makes one humble. Youthful arrogance mellows into affable modesty as one grows old and it finally sublimates into self-effacing humility. Harivansh Rai Bachchan wrote, in ‘Kya bhooloon, kya yaad karoon,’ one of the four volumes of his autobiography, “Now with age, sitting against the silhouette of a setting sun, I ruminate and introspect. I look at my whole life from a deeper perspective.”

This is the beauty of the final phase of human life. One gets an altogether new perspective, looking back at the cavalcade of events and experiences in life. Life can only be judged in its totality when it reaches its logical end. Like icing on the cake, the advanced years make one more understanding and pragmatic. During one’s youth, there’s often an irrational and romantic fascination for cutting short one’s life, which’s called “intellectual harakiri” or the “James Dean Syndrome,” after the Hollywood heart-throb, who acted in the cult movie, ‘Rebel without a cause’ and died very young. This is a passing phase.

Advanced age is advancement in all respects and regards. Rabindranath Tagore took to painting at the ripe age of 65 and Nirad C Chaudhury kept writing till he breathed his last at the age of 99! Medical science’s latest findings indicate that the very term ‘senile degeneration’ is not only derogatory, it’s physiologically incorrect as well. I’ll go a step further and say that it’s politically incorrect, because it’s been found in a number of cases that the human body can generate new cells, especially glial cells in the brain, responsible for higher level of thinking and cognition. This explains why very many greats have been ‘late bloomers’. So, stop sulking, remember Robert Browning’s lines, “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.”

Like the full-bodied aroma of a classic wine, human beings also emanate the fragrance of wisdom and sapience as they advance in age. Most importantly, one understands one’s true worth when one reaches the final stage because we always wear masks to get on with the business of living and to get on with people, never revealing one’s real core.

We dress to impress, have borrowed quotes and we strive to be politically correct. Often, we live for people who actually don’t care. And one fine day, it dawns on us that it was all an illusion. We revert to our original selves and wisdom flows, suppressed intuition blooms. Suddenly, we’re pushing all the right buttons. Age throws open the windows of knowledge, nous and perception. It makes our vision all-encompassing. So, grow old and wait for the windows to open. A new awakening awaits you. Don’t deny or defy that. Oct 1 is the Internatonal Day of Older Persons.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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