Spending Old Age Meaningfully
For the elderly, their stage in life can be a great time to sit back and enjoy. There are plenty of reasons to be positive about old age, and there’s no reason you can’t still live life to the full and have a wonderful time with the time that you still have.
Some people think that being old is a terrible burden because, they believe, elderly people don’t have much energy to do things. They think that after they reach a certain age and no longer work for a living, there may be nothing left for them to look forward to. Such people, when they become old, may simply sit at home and brood, be glued to the TV, idle away time and become a burden on others. But the fact of the matter is that retirement from active, paid work is not the end of the world. After all, the position or designation that a person once enjoyed is not what he/she actually is.
To me, ageing is not lost youth but, rather, a new stage of opportunity and strength. Elderly people have a reservoir of experience of facing myriad situations that arise in life. This experience is a precious asset for others. Elderly people have lived over many decades, have experienced much and have learnt much. This is a great treasure, which they can share with younger people so that the latter can learn about how to negotiate life, how to make best use of their time and opportunities as well as how to handle inevitable challenges and mistakes. It would be wonderful if elderly people from different walks of life could be invited to forums where they can share some of the life-lessons they have learnt with others.
Ageing is part of the process of life and need not mean retirement from all activity. Though I am 80 years old, I am still very active. In fact, one of the reasons for my good health is that I still try to keep myself usefully occupied. I became an MP at the age of 55, and I remained an MP till the age of 78. Advancing age did not affect my active involvement in political life. I retired from the Rajya Sabha in 2018 at the age of 79 . Even now I still go to office and attend meetings of various organisations with which I am associated. I meet people and have also gone back to my profession of chartered accountancy. I believe I am spending my life meaningfully without thinking that I am ageing. You can avoid fatigue of age if you believe and feel that every person has a purpose and assign ourselves to be active and help society.
Now in my early 80s, by God’s grace, I am concerned about the younger generation. It is the scheme of God that youngsters will take over the responsibilities from their elders, and it is the duty of the elders to instil good values in the younger generation values of humility, kindness, gentleness, honesty, hard work, ethics, and so on.
For the elderly, their stage in life can be a great time to sit back and enjoy. There are plenty of reasons to be positive about old age, and there’s no reason you can’t still live life to the full and have a wonderful time with the time that you still have. As work responsibilities decline, old age can be a time to explore hobbies and activities that there was no time for earlier in life. You can now spend your time trying to learn new things, which you may not have made time for before. If you have some sort of passion, like gardening or counselling or reading, your interests can keep you socially-engaged and active in old age, which can have positive effects on your health, too. At this stage in life you can spend a good portion of your time in reflection, contemplation and reading.
As we move further ahead in time and as our time to depart from this world comes closer, we need to find a sanctuary within, for a deeper engagement with the soul. Have you heard of that beautiful saying by the Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi: The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep? It reminds us that we must stay meaningfully engaged with this world, being able to listen to the secrets of the breeze in the early morning that heralds a new day, till at last we are called back to our eternal home in the Hereafter. Till then, live life like a traveller. Carry light baggage, and move on ahead, inspired with faith and trust in God.
(K. Rahman Khan is a former member of the Rajya Sabha and can be reached at [email protected])