When I am old and frail, will you walk beside me. When I can’t see, will you still guide my hand. When I am weak, will you be my strength. When my hair is gone, will I still be your valentine? When I am sixty-eight, will you still need me around?
These are no words out of a famous song, story or a play but true feelings of every single person who turns old and frail, a relic of the past (with due apologies), knowing very well that I too am at the cusp of senility. Practically everyone, on whom the sun is about to set after a lifetime of immense glow and sunshine, one who has illuminated the lives of numerous others for decades. Even a mighty object like the sun shines for a finite period of time after which it explodes and vanishes without leaving much of a trace. Old age is the most dreaded phase of human life, as it is no longer warm and cosy in here. No one remains untouched by this biological turn in one’s life since universally everyone is a candidate in-waiting. The youthful and prime phases have ended and twilight is what will last long, its cold and lonely. Stepping into the phase of physical infirmity and diminishing strength when one can no longer sustain life on his own, is quite disheartening. Apart from failing health, the other issues to deal with include financial and emotional issues. But do not fret as it is the law of nature and you and I cannot escape it or do a thing about it anyhow. The old ones making room for the new. The old leaves and wilted flowers making way for the new ones that mark the birth of new life.
Retirement from active service is one such announcement that you are no longer needed to take part in the official matters and steer the big ship that you have steered for so long. Just overnight you have acquired the tag of a vintage breed. Suddenly you have become too old and turned senile that your employer thinks he can do without you and no longer needs you. This might give rise to ill feelings like low self-worth and self-esteem in some individuals. Well this is a pessimistic thought which afflicts majority of people that seems to completely overwhelm and drown them under its weight. However, the truth is quite different. It is a benevolent gesture from your employer, he wants to rest you for all the things you have done in those long strenuous years at service and still pay you half the salary as pension, even when you do not attend office ever after! Some of you might take pleasure out of this announcement and remain happy thereafter, while the rest might object to it as you view it as a tactic to keep you out of regular affairs at the company as well as hand out a salary cut without which you might not be able to afford a luxurious lifestyle you have always enjoyed. It is a serious concern since at this age a regular credit to your bank account by way of monthly salary dries out and your monthly medical bills keep soaring. For some of you, I know for sure, the monthly medical bills outstrip the regular monthly food bill as well. Thus, ensuring present lifestyle and affording medical expenses could become challenging for some of you unless some smart choices have been made in the past, provided you had the benefit of an excellent financial advisor to give you company. What you thoroughly miss are the lavish official meals, trips to exotic locations for award ceremonies, visits to countrywide offices for inspection and plethora of perks that an official designation comes with.
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Having no official duties to engage yourself with, you just become a house bird doing all the thankless homely chores to assist your spouse. At first you cannot figure out how to fill your day with worthwhile activities. While you were at your office, there was a beeline of people waiting to meet up with you as you were in great demand because of the clout you possessed. But now you are designation-less and hence emasculated, just a lonely bird that has been consigned to isolation and seclusion not just by your friends but family members too. Earlier, relatives called you for some favours but now they too do not bother to call you as you cannot get their job done by wielding power that you recently lost. Earlier you contributed in the family decisions as your opinion counted to a great extent. But now your opinion does not count at all as you and your ideas are as archaic as a relic from the past. You are no more relevant than a discarded piece of furniture that adorns some non-descript corner of the house that no one uses. You suddenly find yourself relegated to the annals of history like a perfectly redundant and outdated textbook that serves little or no useful purpose which no one needs. It is an uphill task to keep yourself updated and relevant at all times, but not impossible. It is a matter of finding your changed set of priorities and then working on them to gain a cutting edge.
However, I feel that keeping yourself occupied, engaged and involved is the best antidote to boredom and failing health. The more you keep yourself confined, aloof and inured, old age will catch up faster than you think. The new schedule of tasks, if you happen to make one, takes a while to sink in. Although it seems awkward in the start but you fall into the mould sooner or later. You can afford to wake up a little late, take longer in the shower, take long morning walks and read all the editorials as you do not have to rush to work or take a pay cut for reaching late. This is truly liberating and exciting in the beginning but wears off after a few days as the new schedule settles down to a steady state that fails to enthuse you anymore. This is the time you can pick up an activity or a hobby like reading or gardening or even both. You can take a membership of a group as per your individual needs, divinity, yoga, aerobics etc. You are the best judge to decide what activity would interest, inspire and motivate you.
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Old age is the age of wisdom, maturity, mindful wakefulness when the experience you have gathered shows in which ever way you conduct yourself, be it talk, action or guiding someone for a particular job. You possess superior knowledge of rules and practises of the profession you have been in. Not only this, you also have great sense of understanding about how to deal with people, how the world works and how to get things done. There can be no replacement for this kind of experience that only age can teach you no matter how many qualifications one possesses. Therefore, the phrase ‘old is gold’ is most appropriate in this case. I wonder if a 60 year old can ever be replaced by two 30 year-olds!
Welcome old age, welcome freedom and wisdom.
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