Tuesday, November 24, 2009

20 Philosophies in Ageing Gracefully

Plato lived long, carried on the teachings of his
teacher, Socrates; and founded the Academe -
prototype of today's university. His idea of idealism
is Utopian. It inspires man to reach out for the
stars, so to speak - a key to long and hopeful life.

By Dr Abe V Rotor

1. Ageing like good wine; it becomes mellow with age. But only good wine becomes mellow with age. And the longer ageing is, the better is the quality of the wine. We can compare it also with wood. “A seasoned timber never gives (up).” A seasoned teacher is wise.

2. Ageing is like knowledge – distilled into wisdom. It’s the ripening of fruits on the tree. Knowledge is not all useful; it leaves a lot of wastes. Which I call infollution (information pollution). Like the so many flowers and developing fruits of a huge mango tree, those that fall are useless knowledge; those that do not ripen are knowledge that can’t stand by themselves. Only those that remain full and ripe at the end are like wisdom. Wisdom is tested by timelessness and universality.

3. Old age is harvesting what you planted in youth. The man is the child of yesterday. Start early in life to plant the seed of success, more so, the seed of service. Monuments are not built for no reason at all. And even without a monument a good deed is monumental in the hearts and minds of those you serve and those who believe in you – especially those you have changed their lives.

4. Ageing physically and physiologically - this is inevitable. But don’t let the mind and the heart age prematurely and uselessly. Like faculty, practice makes them alive and full. Reason, thoughts, imagination, love, compassion should not go to waste by chronological age.

5. The child in you must always live. That Little Prince that rules over the grownup in you that says “a matter of consequence is not only those that are urgent and important,” is also preserving the ideal. Idealism must live together with realism.

6. There are those who are late bloomers; they bloom with age. Catalyze the blossoming of the beautiful things – how late they may come in life. It is better to bloom in old age than to blossom early – and the blossom just fades away. You’ll even regret it because it could mean to you as failure.

7. In old age don’t lose your trophies and medals - because of one false move, worst, if deliberate. Or because of a persistent habit you thought you can get away with even in old age. There is nothing more regretful if you fall into disgrace in old age – you don’t have a second life to amend for it.

8. Hold your horses. Stop, look, listen. Getting older adopts “slow but sure” attitude towards situations and decisions. “Quick to think, but slow to act,” may be appropriate in old age. That is why in traditional societies, decision makers are old people, village elders.

9. Make your assets grow for others, as you prepare to leave the world. Have the philanthropic heart. You can’t take your riches to your tomb. The Egyptians never did. The young pharaoh Tutankhamen left his belongs for the afterlife in his tomb, now in the Egyptian Museum. . Economics does not work well with each one of us holding a treasure chest and locking it up. Imagine if the world is dominated by Madoff, by AIG, by Lehman Brothers - even with their generosity.

10. Older societies are more peaceful than younger societies. Make peace as you grow older. Old men don’t go to war. It is the brave who dies young. “Where have all the flowers gone?” speaks the youth cut down in their prime. All wars – ancient, religious, political – the young is the sacrificial lamb. People as they grow older can’t simply be made easy tools for power and greed. .

11. Expanded family ties; three generations not in a row, but in a chain. For the first time in the history of man that four three generations live under one roof. And soon four generations - as longevity increases. While in the city the family is getting small, agrarian families is expanding because of longer life span.

12. Scientific and technological thrusts are toward ageing, longevity: rejuvenation, on-site cloning of tissues and organs, ergonomics (designing tools and materials that fits well to the comfort of the user) - geriatrics, gerontology (all about the science and caring of the aged.)

13. Extension of retirement, active retirement – this is the trend today for old people. Soldiers become security guards; teachers become professor emeritus, executives as consultants, professions doing odd jobs. Age of retirement is not after all boring. So when does one really retire?

14. Foster, adopt, and have the needy, the homeless, the orphaned, the abandoned as your own children especially if you are childless. Even then, by the time you are very old, your children shall then be on their own. Be like Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie who have adopted children of different color. Sponsor scholarships for the deserving but are unable to pursue their studies.

15. Resurrection and immortality are myths. Humans will always remain mortals. More than a hundred corpses of rich Americans are in cryonic tanks waiting for the time to resurrect the. DNA extracted from cadavers and human fossils will never make a living replica of the departed or deceased.

16. Life cycle biologically - that is a universal given to everything, living or non-living. But with man’s rationality we can plot our life cycle, on so many socio-economic matters. The late Justice Secretary OrdoƱez wrote a book, Life Cycle. He said the inevitable is biological, but the way we live our lives, is within much under our control and will. “Men choose to live long which they have no control of, yet refuse to live nobly within their will.” So said the great Roman Philosopher Cicero.

17. Nature is selfish within your lifetime – you care so much for those close to your genes, to the point of dying for them. But nature, after you are gone is altruistic after you are gone; it distributes your genes to where they will most fit in the name of evolution through which a species should be best equipped in order to survive. We can hardly trace our family tree beyond the third generation. Where are the offspring of the pharaohs, of the King of Siam?

18. Kindness is key to fulfillment; it is also the Golden Rule. “Treat an old man as you wish men to treat you when you are old.” Say Chaucer in Pardoner’s Tale. But be kind yourself as an old man or woman. And that kindness must be unconditional. ARK in Evan the Almighty means – Act of Random Kindness. That’s the way to change the world, so said God in that film.

19. Don’t just pass people along the way. Stop, help them, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, visit the imprisoned, clothe the naked, comfort the lonely, and heal the sick. In Matthew 25, Christ said, “What you have done to the least of my brother, you have done it to me.” Indeed this is the most meaning act of a human to humanity. You deserve a place in heaven.

20. Facing death is a beautiful thing to one who has reached old age. It’s like a candle in its final brightness. Angelus to the old who is dying unifies the family, gathers the broken fragments of relationships. Bonding is strengthened. It’s time for the living to say the kindest things about the departed. Let the occasion be a memorable and lasting one. Dying is leaving to the living a new hope, renewed love, and a new beginning.

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