09. Of Growing Old
When we grow, we are also growing older. When we are young the time goes a bit slower. 1 month or 1 year seems so much longer when we are young, than what it feels when we are older. And there is a very interesting theory behind it.
So when we are 5, one year corresponds to 1/5th of our entire life. or 20% of our entire life. And since we have lived so little when we are 5, (in terms of years) one year seems like a such a long time.
But when we are 35, that year is 1/35th of our time on earth or just about 3% of our entire life. So even though we have lived 1 full year in both cases when we are 5 and 35 - as we get older the time seems to fly and we seem to not have enough of it.
Wasn’t it 2019 like just … now ? Or wasn’t I 29 few months back? We have all had thoughts like these. Such a thought with it always seems to bring a bit of sadness.
Especially after the age of 45 these feelings become intense and there is a term for it - “midlife crisis”.
I cannot put it in better words than Wikipedia does, so here’s what it has to say
A midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45–55 years old.
The phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person’s growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly lack of accomplishments in life. This may produce feelings of intense depression, remorse, and high levels of anxiety, or the desire to achieve youthfulness or make drastic changes to their current lifestyle or feel the wish to change past decisions and events.
Well that is heavy - it’s not called crisis for nothing.
There is lot less that we can enjoy at 45 (or 60!) than what we could in our 30s. And such persistent feelings of regret about getting older can strip away even that !!
Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old. - Abraham Lincoln
So we don’t have a problem with living longer but it’s more about getting older that sucks.
Living longer and getting older are not mutually exclusive things. If you want to live longer - you have to be an old person. There is no escaping that.
If you are not old or for that matter older than yesterday - you are dead. Plain and simple.
The only control that we have is to make the process graceful. And we can do that with exercise, diet and wellness. Have you noticed that people who are in shape and smile more and smile wide seem a lot younger?
We have to give ourselves reasons to smile and smile more as we age. And that is where I find this quote from Michael Caine so much insightful
To me, growing old is great. It’s the very best thing - considering the alternative.
Michael is an Oscar winning English actor, many of you must have seen him in several Hollywood movies. His portrayal of loyal, calm and composed Alfred from the Dark Knight Trilogy is one of my favorite performances by an actor.
The movie “Balme it on Rio” features Michael in a lead role as an old man reluctantly having an affair with a much younger woman. That movie ends with the following quote by his character in the movie
You only live once, but it does help if you get to be young twice
When we get older we have to find reasons to keep being younger. While you are not 20 but hey you are not 80 either!
And now for the picture behind the quote - In my native language an old person is sometimes referred to as a matured leaf (marathi: पिकलं पान). And many mature leaves are more colorful than when they were new.
The Idea is to grow old nicely, gracefully and then one day when one dies - it could still be beautiful - just like this leaf.
Remember exercise, diet and wellness. These are the keys.
Thanks for reading through.