Depending on where you are in life, old age can be a good thing or a bad thing. It can be a bad thing if you feared growing old, have not loved or be loved or accomplished the goals you set for yourself. Old age may also be dreary and dreadful if you lived a lonely life and are unhappy with your lot in life, or if life has passed you by. It can be awful, really awful for those who merely survived instead of living a full and eventful life.
Sadly, too many of us are afraid to live life, but instead we go through the motion of merely living. More than a few people seem fearful of living life: they trudge along, refusing to acknowledge the beauty and wonderment of life, refusing to participate in all that life has to offer, succumbing to challenges and finding faults in every day’s existence and in the existence of others.
There is nothing to fear about old-age. Some people are afraid because it reminds them of death; an indication that there is little time left. Death will come, sooner or later. Indeed, we all shall die — be it at age 20, 50, 70 or 120. Since death is certain to visit, why fear its arrival?
If you are a woman and at certain age, you look into the mirror and all you see are sagging breasts, miles and miles of wrinkles and stretch-marks, thinning and graying hairs and pouches of fats on your hips and midsections. Every so often you steal a look at the mirror and you wonder: you wonder about the body you once had; and wonder too about what time has wrought on a body that once virginal.
If you are a man, you look at your stomach and then wonder. You may not go bald, but you cannot escape your hair going grey. And before long, you develop nasal hair and ear hair which may go grey. At 60 or 65 or thereabout, your breasts become a bit more pronounced — slightly resembling that of a small-cupped woman. What’s more, your penis and your scrotum sags; and aching joints become part of your daily routine.
Annoying is the fact that, unlike in yester-years, you may be incapable of long and sustained erection. Every so often, however, you may get lucky to the point whereby your penis and libido performs wonders; but for the most part, however, the studhorse or the stallion in you is no more. Nonetheless, some men, even at 70, 75 or 80 are agile to a very reasonable degree. For those who suffer from erectile dysfunction, Viagra and Cialis may be of benefit.
For men and for women, your memory and five senses — sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste — may fail you temporarily or permanently. For most, the first to deteriorate are the memory, the olfactory organs and auditory system. Beyond the aforementioned, other medical conditions, i.e. dementia, Alzheimer, deterioration in the joint and muscles may also set in. Some form of decline or loss in physicality is all part of growing old.
Six, seven or eight decades earlier, you were independent, capable and able to do things for yourself and for others. But age forces you to be dependent on your spouse, children and grandchildren and on the support and kindness of other family members and the general community. In Africa, and in other parts of Asia and Latin America, old-age is revered. You may become the family or the community’s sage or matron: the depository of wisdom and history, and the link to ancestors.
Truth be told, nature’s look can be demoralizing. But you need not be obsessed about your aging body. There is a time for everything; and the time has simply come for the winds and rivers and streams to take their course. Growing old is a good thing especially if you lived your life the best you knew how to. We have no power over our birth and our death; and also have no power over what the heavens intended.
Yes, there are all kinds of cosmetic surgeries to delay or mask the aging process. But why? Why bother with a body that looks as beautiful today as it was yesterday? In old-age, the body simply looks beautiful in a different sort of way. Blemishes and all, your body simply becomes a different canvass for a different sort of artwork. So, don’t worry: embrace and celebrate this new look, this new work of art that your body has become.
There was a time we couldn’t wait to mature. At five, we longed to be ten and then fifteen. At sixteen, we couldn’t wait to be twenty and thirty and all that. Rare is the person who wanted to be a child or an adolescent for ever. You graduated from high school and from college and then entered the job market. You look forward to marriage and to having kids and grandkids. And then you look forward to retirement. You look forward to happiness. You look forward to living and having a joyous and fruitful life. You pray to your God to endow you with long, happy and healthy life. In essence, you look forward to life. And to living.
No matter what life brings our way, we must live life. Eleanor Roosevelt it was who said, “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” In old age, as in our youth, we must dream and aspire; we must set sail to new adventures and meet new challenges; we must touch the flowers and the wind; we must drink from life’s nectar; and bask in life’s possibilities. Somehow, and unfortunately, some of us would lose our bearing. We would lose our zest for life.
Life comes at us in uncanny ways. We may lose a home, a job, a career, or things that mean a lot to us. Some may face financial ruin, illnesses, or debilitating injuries. Sadly, some of us would lose loved-ones long before their hour. Things happen. Life happens. Bad things happen to good people; and good things happen to bad people. Things we have no control over, happens. How, for instance, do one explain why the benevolent and compassionate amongst us die long before their time, while the totally reprehensible tend to live for eternity. No one knows the reasons for such injustice. Even so, life must go on.
Old-age is a beautiful and satisfying place to be. At the very least, it indicates you are a survival and may have lived a life many wished they could have. Old-age is golden. How many summers and winters and springs have you celebrated? How many smiles and laughter have you witnessed or heard? How many chuckles and smirks. How many acts of love and kindness have you shared? How many times do you suppose you have made others happy?
Oh heavens, the hugs and the kisses and the hope and whispers and the cascading laughter that touched the heart of others. And the lives you have given and those you have helped to shape. And so, don’t despair over the aging process. Hug your body parts. Accept and celebrate who you are. Rejoice!