The word downsize is used while discussing a company or a business or economy. This generally happens because of the economic downturn. Things can get “upsized” if companies are properly downsized when needed. Downsize means you reduce the workforce, you stop doing the less productive activity. I had heard about this term being applied to our life too, in the USA. Post-retirement when you get older, you downsize. It meant that if you had a bungalow, sell it off and move to an apartment or a condo. Managing many things beyond a certain age becomes tricky and sometimes it is not cost effective.
As we grow older, we need to live within our corpus (sometimes it may not be big enough too!) Our physical and mental capacities reduce. We tend to be a little more conservative as we are aware of the non-growing corpus and want to be more careful so that we can handle future unplanned emergencies. After a certain age, things that we could handle naturally and easily, start looking difficult and unmanageable. One of the foremost aspects is the socializing and social commitments.
Can we keep the pace of the old times? Do we have the physical and mental strength to handle them? In the context of US society, managing your bungalows becomes a tough call beyond a certain age. This is because lawn mowing, trimming of flower beds, weed removal all such things are required to be done. With a fixed corpus, this can go beyond means for many in their society. In India, luckily manpower costs are much more manageable. But as our abilities start tapering off, management of everything becomes a tough call.
I know of someone, a lady, who loves to follow the tradition of “Gauri-Ganapati”, yearly welcoming the deities of Gauri and Ganapati at home. This activity needs a lot of coordination, logistics and planning. During this celebration, friends are invited to pay obeisance to the deities, followed by sumptuous food. All this has been overwhelming as a lot of small details need to be handled. Even when you were younger it was tough. This lady, who is around 70, has found it even tougher and her mind is a bit confused, now. She has slowed down, and it appears that both her walking and thinking has slowed down proportionately but thinking is more degenerated!
Recently during this process, she looked a bit confused and by the time the first day’s festivities were over, she looked very tired and disoriented. She did not get into panic attack mode but she looked on the verge of it. When asked if she were unwell in the previous week, she was not. This indicated that the event overwhelmed her so much that things appeared reasonably out of control. In younger times too, she was not much of an organizer; at the end of the ceremony, she declared she is not going to have the festivities at home, next year. Well, she still could have it, low key, if she wants but she probably does not want to compromise on processes and traditions. What is the right, low key or doing nothing? I do not know but I would rather have it, low key. To me, downsizing does not mean withdrawing from life.
I know of a family who has been committed to social circuits. A minimum of 3 to 4 programs a week parties, home or away. Once in a while, they share, that now they can’t handle this. I suggested to them to slow down and cut down engagements to once a week. The lady finds it very difficult with lesser “load”! Husband is better off in the new situation. Why do people need to be so much social? Is it to show off? Is it that husband and wife cannot spend time together, do they always need to have others for the company?
Jaya and I have almost always gone on our holidays ourselves, never felt the need to have some company. While downsizing, people should try and learn to be with themselves but at the same time, now I am making a conflicting statement, get to know more people. What I mean is when you are on a busy social circuit, you may have the pressure to be present at the party, come what may! (e.g. attending Rotary Club meetings) It seems that the Rotary club allows you to “attend” meetings even if you are in Timbuktu or a small town in Venezuela! Yes, you get to know new people, or do you? If there is a language barrier how will you “meet” people? About my conflicting statement above, “get to know more people”. By this what I mean is that during this new phase you should try and talk to strangers while you are in a shop or a mall. Why not? Don’t be apprehensive! This will give something to look forward to, at the same time, you will be able to come out of “you may have the pressure to be present, come what may” phase of life!
During the downsizing phase, try to learn new things. It may be physical or maybe brain churning. Learning how to use WhatsApp can become a tough activity for people who feel technologically challenged. But once you have learned it, it can become a great way to stay in touch with people. Try using the internet and internet banking! Money transactions remain part of our life till our last day on the Terra Firma! Of course, someone else will have to pay your last hospital bill!! In younger days, all the payments etc were managed as easily as driving a vehicle; those were never a problem in those days.
But at the same time, if you want to withdraw cash, don’t use an ATM, go to the bank! You will meet some people there. Don’t order everything online, go to mom and pop stores next door, simply to meet people. Another thing, I would suggest is to try to learn reading from the screens! Yes, the Hard Cover books and the paperbacks, have their own charm! But going to bookshops can be a problem. If the letter size is small it can again become tricky. Insufficient light can also create an issue while reading books. Use the screen means use a Tablet or a Kindle, to read books. You can change the brightness, you can increase the font size too! Don’t get stuck into the phrase, “In our times…” In our time’s things were different but if better options are available, use them. You can write about your experiences using computers, not necessarily to share with others. Do this writing for the purpose of reminiscence, for your own self. Try doing it, you will find it amazing that you have so many memories with you, like the hidden files on the computer.
Friends, I can go on and on and on! But I don’t want you to call me a boring old man! I will sign off with something which tells you the gist of what I am saying. My daughter and her husband are permanently moving to Canada in six to eight months. Their formalities are completed. A friend had come to our home, for Ganapati darshan, the other day. Our Ganapati idol is an eco-friendly idol made of Silver; we never follow the immersion process as done by others! I told my friend, our Ganapati has also got his Canadian PR! He will travel with my daughter to Canada next year! He was a bit surprised! Be practical! This puts downsizing on auto-pilot mode! You can always start something new and less challenging!