I’ve always been in awe of the old. To have reached 70, 80, or 90 in relative good health is reason enough. In the movie The Holiday, Miles (Jack Black) tells Iris (Kate Winslet) on Christmas Eve that they should celebrate the night because “we’re young and alive”. True but so’s when we’re old and alive.
Old age to me stands for
(1) history, much of it – Take for instance my father. He’s my primary source of first-hand information on Baguio City back when it was largely pastureland. I’ve a vivid picture of the old City because of his recall;
(2) acceptance – the fact that the old have lived through decades of momentous change yet not die of melancholia is just really awesome. Isn’t that what the business community refer to as reengineering – only those who adapt their strategies, processes and products to the times will continue to be in business? At the mall early one morning I came to a group of older women clad in T-shirts and leotards dancing with much panache to the beat of Electric Dreams. I learned that they were practicing for their Christmas party presentation. I was amused because I bet that in their youth they would’ve been ostracized for having wiggled their hips and in public too, bared their arms, worn outfits that tightly outlined their form, for dancing unchaperoned. But as it is these women have come a long way though not without painful acceptance of the circumstances of their time;
(3) wisdom as a result of struggles for relevance – Often the old are touted by younger generations as irrelevant to the present in as far as their ways are concerned but I disagree. The old I believe had struggled with issues similar to those experienced by today’s young only that they handled them in ways appropriate and acceptable to their time. I for instance wouldn’t know how to handle being caned or the constant threat of it as a form of discipline. I’d probably renounce my folks and run away the first instance they whack me. But look at our grandparents they’ve survived that kind of training and are decent people. I’m not saying beating as punishment works but there’s the difference with the youth now. They’re not severely disciplined yet they’re living life as if the whole village beat them up.
(4) wonder of the human body – From my mother-in-law (who I’m on a somewhat friendly terms still) I learned that her 99-year old mother who I first met nine years ago was visiting again from abroad. She walks about without assistance and is mentally coherent. Her sight is fine and her powers of speech are OK. Immigration authorities wouldn’t have permitted her to travel if she wasn’t fit, right? Incidentally she puts me and my fear of flying to shame. Her birthday’s today which means she was born in 1914. Goodness! It brings home the meaning of the Christian preaching about the human being as also spirit or soul which lives eternally.
Will I live that long too and still be ambulatory and coherent? Do I have the DNA for that? Do I want to live that long? Fifty to sixty years from today is a lifetime still. Almost everyone I know say they’d rather die when the world is still a good place. I admire them because they’ve reconciled with their fears and know when they’d prefer to go. As for myself, I don’t have an answer right now although I’m inclined to side with the many who if it was up to us we’d rather not go through the transition to get to forever. I’m being dreamy-eyed of course.