The way to grow old gracefully and gratefully

Ashenafi Zedebub

We all know that some people are “old” at forty, while others are “young” at seventy.

Scholars say people must realize that all of us have three stages of ages: our age in years, usually regarded as much more important as it really is; our bodily age, which by no means be the same as the physical average for our years; and our age – perhaps the most important of the three. So many people are afraid of the old age. Indeed, there is a painful feeling caused by the nearness or possibility of danger or evil.

The terror of old age may be because of the lack of reasonable process for the future during the earlier days. As researchers indicated, most of the evil associated with old age are due to failure to prepare for the inevitable. As we grow old it is inevitable that we should weaken mentally and physically.  But we must know that the kind of old age which awaits us is to a large extent in our hands.

In our Ethiopian society one can see a person suddenly approaching the old age when he/she retires on pension. In particular, a woman of thirty in Ethiopia becomes – or at least thinks so to be – rather old just because she happened to be a mother. It is tragic, indeed, that old age in our country generally means a destruction of one’s hopes and, consequently, a retirement from this world.

Far too many people, especially when they no longer are able to compete with the young, excuse themselves from most of the interests outside their family circle by saying that they lack talent or feel no inclination for such things. They forget several major points worth remembering. For instance, one should know that it is not at all necessary to be a musician in order to gain pleasure from music. Carpentry, painting, gardening, writing are a few of the activities which could be done during old age. But people think that they have to be experts on each and every hobby they want to start and, therefore, prefer to remain idle. It may be true that one could not be in a position to start a hobby at the age of sixty, unless the person has a slight idea before. Thus, it is advisable to have a free time occupation outside the business by choosing a certain type of “day-off activities.”

Many great books were written and operas composed by people of seventy and even eighty. Several old people in the industrialized world today have undertaken totally new work and became successful in it. But, if one says “I am old, too old, to achieve things” then of course the person in question will have convinced oneself that hardly any activity is worth the attempt.

The elderly people who keep themselves young and surprise all their prematurely old friends by their useful and interesting activities are invariably those who regard their years as a challenge.

Some say “marriage is what you make it and, – to a great extent and at any rate – old age is what you make it too.” This is true. However, much of the making occurs in earlier life. “You reap what you have sown!”  As special difficulties often face people when they grow old, it is as well worthwhile to consider that happiness may be also achieved depending on the preparation during the earlier years. But, as it is in our society, old age could be darkened by deep and deep sorrow if people give up hopes right from the start and begin to live a sad monastic life.

With the experience I have in dealing with elderly people (of my age) ,I could witness that only a  few above sixty are interested in getting old gratefully. Many of them prefer to pray for their soul rather than to make the old age colorful. I am not against prayer. I am in fact the one to pray to the Almighty and thank Him for allowing me as to keep me alive. But this does not mean that I have to abandon life and think of death or destruction every day and prepare to die. Some are even being irresponsible, worthless, by consuming alcoholic drinks, smoke tobacco and being too careless and make the old age full of worries by spacing children.

So, I am of the opinion that personal preparedness for the old age is of the utmost importance. Avoid thinking of gloomy days to come. Make your old age colorful by preparing for the inevitable ahead of time.  Abolish stiffness, stubbornness and make your old age graceful and grateful. This is how I am aging. What about you?

 

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