“Victor Hugo, titan of French literature, was once called upon to comfort a friend who had arrived at his 50th birthday and depressed at the idea of growing old.

“You should rejoice, my friend,” Hugo told him, “that you have escaped your forties, which are the old age of youth, and have arrived at the age of fifty, which is the youth of old age.”

We are much concerned about growing old forgetting the fact that it is an inevitable part and act of the nature which nobody can escape.  Since it is a reality that we have to accept and reconcile, then what purpose will it serve if we are to grieve about it other than to indulge in self-imposed stress and pity? The self-imposed stress is coming out of a fear that as we grow older, the so-called young look will fade away leaving only the wrinkles and the assumed ugly old looks connected with aging. Age is only a number added to your life every year like the mile stone we find while travelling. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. We grow old only if we live a life of the zombie. It is our mind and our thought process that make us think that growing old and our helplessness to change the diabolical dimensions of the purported perceptions of growing in age is the ugly part of our life. The fault lies with us because we do not understand the power of the mind which makes us wary of growing old.

The intriguing factor is that we do not know when we actually start feeling growing old. That is the big question mark. Maturity of mind and thoughts are the hall mark of really growing old. Maturity does not depend upon the age but on how we approach our life and how our attitude shapes us to face our present life and prepares to lead our future existence. Our grooming and tutelage from our infant years and the company that we keep with, the environment that impact us from childhood and the media to which we are exposed and the quality of our education that we receive and the experiences we face during our growing years are the influencing factors and guide our destiny in our later years to form our attitude towards our life to make us feel young at heart or to be fearful of our old age.

As we grow older and older, we also gain from our ancient wisdom which teaches us that while growing old is inevitable but keeping our heart young always is the success story of growing old. The problem with us is that we do not know how to keep our heart young. People grow old only when they do not understand what they really want while growing old. We grow old only when we desert our ideals, aspirations, ambitions, enthusiasm and the zest and zeal for our productive living. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkle the soul. Our persistent worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and desperation will bow down our head and destroy our enthusiasm and turn the growing spirit back to dust.

To quote General Douglas MacArthur, “Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, undaunted challenge of events, the un-falling, childlike appetite for “what next”, and the joy and the game of life.”

“You are 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. In the central place of your heart, there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, and courage, so long as you are young. When the wires are all down, and your heart is covered with the snow of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then-and then only- are you grown old.”

The life is a fountain of youthful thinking and youthful activities as far as our mind goes. it is our mind, our talents, the creativity we bring to our life and the lives of people we love because of which the longer we live, the more beautiful life becomes. We should think that “Ageing is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”. Generally, what happens is that the older we get, we walk away from people and situations which we feel, threatens our peace of mind and self-respect, and values and self-worth. But that will not prevent us from going old. It is escapism from facing the reality of life.  We all get older — even if we do everything in our power to not visibly age, it happens to us all. Aging doesn’t have to be horrible; instead, it can be a time of having a new appreciation for our self and our gifts. With age comes confidence, wisdom, and the ability to not take things so personally. Life is a gift and we all need to appreciate every moment of it, even if we aren’t as young as we once were. Aging as scary as change can be and as much as we might resist it, there’s always some unknown gift that comes out of it which gives us an inner power to begin again and relive with it happily.

The secret of aging gracefully and happily is to make aging look great with a meaningful life so that everyone looks forward to it. Always think that there is a youthfulness in aging too in whatever that we do with our mind, our talents, the creativity we bring to our life and the lives of those who are dear and near ones and whom we love to create all around happiness and wellbeing. If we understand this power within us and when we learn to tap this power, we truly have defeated age. Growing older and wiser and also more experienced would bring us more confidence about who we are and what we can do to make this world more beautiful and worth living as we grow older and older for which we can be proud of.

The little that we can do would make the world brighter and happier.

“If any little word of mine

May make a life brighter,

If any little song of mine

May make a heart the lighter,

God help me to speak the little word

And take my bit of singing,

And drop it in some lonely vale

To set the echoes ringing.

If any little love of mine

May make the life sweeter,

If any little care of mine

May make a friend’s the fleeter

If any little lift may ease

The burden of another,

God give me love, and care, and strength

To help my toiling brother”.

So, let us all resolve to grow old gracefully and meaning fully.

(The Author invites comments from readers and he can be contacted either through his e-mail trrk1941@gmail.com or mobile 9229248048)

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2 Comments

  1. T. R. Radhakrishnan says:

    Dear Mr. Sasidharan,
    “Man is the master of his own fate” and you are more than what you know about yourself. Use your power of thinking positively and engage yourself in activities which give not only satisfaction and happiness for you and also be of some help to the society of which we are part of it. Develop some hobby like reading, writing, music etc and nothing is late in life. Learning is a never ending process till our end. Hence, pursue some positive activity to keep your self engaged. At 80, I am fully engaged in my consultancy activities and pursuing my hobbies of writing, music, reading, social interaction , seeing movies in the TV etc. I do not have time to think negatively. So, my dear brother , do not brood but keep your self engaged. Spread happiness all around you.

  2. Sasidharan K says:

    I really enjoyed reading your article on Growing Old Gracefully. I am just past 62 and both physically and mentally fit leaving a lot of energy unutilized. This unutilized energy is turning against me as I do not have much to do after retirement from Government service. Keeping oneself idle leads to ‘anxiety’ for no reason. I realize that this is not peculiar to me and most of the ‘retired’ people suffer from ‘anxiety’ and ‘panic attack’. Would you be able to suggest some practical guidance to get over such problems. Thanks and regards

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