Opinion Op Ed 01 Oct 2018 Mystic Mantra: Old i ...
Francis Gonsalves is a professor of theology. He can be contacted at fragons@gmail.com

Mystic Mantra: Old is gold

Published Oct 1, 2018, 1:58 am IST
Updated Oct 1, 2018, 1:58 am IST
You and I can decide whether we come under this category or not.
On her 85th birthday a woman was asked: “What’s the secret of your happiness?” She replied, “At our age, it’s important to keep using all our potential or it dries up. It is vital to be with people and earn one’s living.”
 On her 85th birthday a woman was asked: “What’s the secret of your happiness?” She replied, “At our age, it’s important to keep using all our potential or it dries up. It is vital to be with people and earn one’s living.”

On her 85th birthday a woman was asked: “What’s the secret of your happiness?” She replied, “At our age, it’s important to keep using all our potential or it dries up. It is vital to be with people and earn one’s living.” She was asked again, “Do you still work for a living?” She replied, “Oh, yes! I look after an old lady nearby!”  Today is “International Day of Older Persons”. The UN does not define who “older persons” are. You and I can decide whether we come under this category or not. No matter how young you are, people always ask: “How old are you?” I know many old people who are young; and young people who are old. Some youth even retire before they begin working. Age is not a matter of the body but of the mind. In my 50-plus years, I’ve been boasting: “I’ve never spent a single day in any hospital!” Alas, a month ago I was hospitalised and horizontalised, undergoing traction for three days for severe backache. In moments like these one realizes that one must sometimes “go slow!”. Growing old gracefully is not easy. Some get depressed when they enter vanaprastha — literally, “retiring into the forest” — stage of life when one compulsorily retires from official service on account of age. This needn’t be a time for regression or depression. Rather, to retire is time to “re-tyre” one’s mental, physiological, psychological and spiritual engines to embark upon something new and soul-satisfying. Hinduism has beautiful Shashti Poorti ceremonies commemorating advancement into the 60s—a time to be grateful not only to the railways for welcome discounts, but to look inward and Godward with gladness and gratitude. When society asks you to hand over the reins of “power” which has been given to you from outside, you can simply draw from inside and be an :“authority” in the art, science or skill you’ve mastered over some 40 years. The Bible describes God as the “Ancient of Days”, and, on the one hand, tells of characters like Sarah who was beautiful in her old age and Moses who, at 120, was “with undimmed sight and unabated vigour”. However, on the other hand, blind Isaac was deceived by his wife. Are your elders at home comfortable? Do you consider them as burdens or blessings? Remember the times they fed you and fondled you, taught you and brought you up to “who” you are today. Even if your house is small, it is enough that your heart is big to embrace them with love, gratitude and compassion.  I remember Robert Browning’s words: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be; the last of life, for which the first was made.”

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