Who wants to get bloody old?

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Last twenty years have changed this world so much that some of my contemporaries get overwhelmed. There are new technologies, new processes; different thinking is rapidly barging into our lives. On top of that, new buzzwords and new methods of communication are giving run for money to the older generation. Millennial is one word I often read these days. It means a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century. Such individuals have grown up with all new things. They are as comfortable with new ideas as we were with bullock carts, dial-up phones, using a notebook and pen for writing and yes, reading books too!

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But to me, we the people in the 7th decade of life are also millennials of the new world. Don’t worry! I know what I am talking, and my grey cells are active. The golden period of our lives is the time in our lives when we have time on hand; we have enough money (everybody’s definition of enough is different!). The situation is the result of one’s children settling down, and you are now a free bird! The real millennials are comfortable with new things in life but we millennials are comfortable with life itself. We don’t understand some new things; we don’t care. We have no worry about anything in this world. Who is bothered about death when there are so many things to do?

The traditional writings are treaties that say that Vanaprastha means “one who gives up worldly life”. It is also a concept in Hindu traditions, representing the third of four ashramas of human life, the other three being Brahmacharya, Grihastha and Sannyasa. Vanaprastha is part of the Vedic ashram system, which starts when a person hands over household responsibilities to the next generation, takes an advisory role, and gradually withdraws from the world.

Till handling of responsibilities to the next generation is fine by me. But what is the need for Vanaprastha? In olden times, I am not sure how long people lived, on average. Plus, until as recently as late as fifty years back, there was nothing to do in the evening of one’s life; the real-life evening ended with the Sunset. Now our evening begins with the Sunset! Though the indication to take advisory role and withdrawal from life is suggested, to me it’s a crappy piece of advice. But now we the new millennials are too busy doing and planning different things. Who has time to get old?

Higher life expectancy, better health adds to the change in the thought process. We want to go and see Raigad and Pratap gad. We want to go and see Machu Picchu and go and watch Wimbledon finals. We want to take a tour to see the whales and then go and see the midnight Sun. The list is unending; the bucket list keeps on getting longer. It was no surprise to see Charulata Patel on TV, all of 87 years old, enjoying the India-Pakistan world-cup cricket match. A ninety-nine-year-old lady, who was a wheelchair user, was enjoying all alone when we took Alaska cruise. There are examples galore, and the new millennials get more and more encouraged to try and do new things. See new places, get into new hobbies. Some are learning to play the organ and others are enjoying painting. I have joined a creative writing online course conducted by Oxford University.

During student life, humans are busy getting educated and later they are busy working and raising a family. Everybody had hidden from us what joy is waiting for us in our golden period. Some of us are unfortunate and remain unwell; sometimes, they are bedridden. But this can happen at a young age too! There are no writings; there are no treaties written on how to enjoy the golden period, which in conventional language is called old age. Why has this happened? It is simple. The golden age concept hardly existed until recently.

All the fun from college days and professional times are relived by the oldies. Now we do it without feeling any guilt. I am sure that we will soon have books and article deluge on this subject. At 9 am, take your breakfast and suddenly decide that you want to go and see a movie starring Dev Anand, Nargis, Waheeda or whoever. Sit in your car or Riksha, call an Uber and go the multiplex and see the 9.30 am movie. In the meanwhile, send a WhatsApp message to a few more friends and check if they can join you for an Idli-Dosa or a thali. Why not brunch at the Marriot? You have not had that famous missal-pav for some time, have it. Oh, don’t forget to end with the latest craze of Yevale Chai!

Do I want to become old? Do I feel old? Do I have to grow old? The answer to all the questions is no! The simple reason is I don’t have time to become old in the sense of older thinking. That biologically we are growing older is a fact of life, but that does not mean that we must advertise it, we don’t have to show it. One important aspect we forget about the ladies. They are years past their menopause, and their life must be very comfortable. Handling “monthly issues” during work and travel was never a joke for the ladies. It is real freedom for them.

What stupid things you will have to bear with other than some chronic diseases? Maybe you may have to wear some thick glasses, but with current developments in eye surgeries, you may get back the 20/20 eyesight. The world again looks brighter, and you can look at the lovely ladies without staring at them! You can let the time pass by, the way you want! You can wear some stupid clothes or hats and get away with it. People will just murmur, he has become old! I forgot one thing, buy yourself a fancy walking stick!

Would you want to go to a bar where there is loud music? You usually would avoid but now who cares? Don’t take your hearing aid with you! Live the life you want to live! Don’t bother about wasting your time; you have enough time on hand!

All the literature, all the wisdom always did not talk about the benefits of old age! It is because such things never were known to people, and many things did not even exist. The best sign of ageing, though, is that you are still you and people will accept you as you are! If they don’t, who cares?

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Happiness!

Right to life, right to liberty and the right to the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed in the American Constitution! What I like here is the right to a pursuit of happiness and NOT happiness itself. This means you try to achieve happiness by living in the Himalayas or Sahara desert. You may achieve happiness by getting married and having family or remain unmarried if it makes you happy.

In India, we talk about Roti, Kapda and Makan! It is correct to write about the right to have food, clothes and home! A couple of things could get added to the list! Internet & Cellphone (some such personal device)! Every society decides its ways of being happy, our forefathers decided that basic things like Roti, Kapda and Makan will make us happy.

Definition of happiness is pretty simple; it is state of being happy! But like everything in life nothing is simple. To me, it is the state of joy, the nice feeling at that particular juncture! I feel that we should first try and define what is NOT happiness!

Happiness is not about feeling good all the time!

Is a person who drinks alcohol every day “happy?” If feeling good all the time were our only requirement, then the answer would be “yes.” When you take alcohol, you feel light in your head but when you do it daily, the addiction stage may be reached. That is definitely not happiness. While you are sad, you are in a melancholy mood and suddenly something happens which makes you feel nice, you are happy. After all, what goes up must come down and what is down has to go up, at some stage.  Furthermore, when you ask people what makes their lives worth living, they rarely say anything about their mood. They are more likely to cite things that they find meaningful, such as their work or relationships. If you focus too much on trying to feel good all the time, you’ll actually undermine your ability to feel good at all—in other words, no amount of feeling good will be satisfying to you, since what you expect (all the time) isn’t physically possible for most people.

Happiness is not being rich and affording whatever you want!

While living below the poverty line certainly makes it hard to be happy, beyond that, money does not appear to buy happiness. Imagine, you unexpectedly get a large raise. While you would certainly be excited in the short term, it would only be a matter of time before your expectations change to fit your new budget. You may want to buy that bigger car or a bigger home! Your wife may want to buy that diamond pendant she had been pining for. Before you know it, the savings you are able to make at the end of the year are not much more than what you did before the raise!  The only exception to this rule is when you spend your money on an experience with your family and friends. If you spent that additional money on some weekend getaways to new and exciting places with your friends or family, then you might get happier. People usually don’t do this!

Happiness is not the final destination!

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The old adage, “Are we there yet?” is often applied to discussions of happiness, as if a person works towards happiness and one day “arrives.” Contrary to popular belief, however, very few people in this world are naturally happy, it takes regular effort to maintain happiness. Most established techniques for becoming happier are habits, not one-shot events; and most life events that make us happy in the short-term, like getting married or being promoted, fade over time as we adapt to them. There is no magic wand for becoming happy!

 

 

We live life in a sinusoidal waveform. The topmost wave form in the left side diagram is a sinusoidal wave. In our life, there are peaks and troughs of happiness and sadness. The wave shows a very uniform pattern but our life is never like the wave, it is too complex like the waveform on the right side diagram! Being born in the right family, education, career, marriage, children and then middle age and old age is the normal life pattern. These are the things that give you happiness. Many things can happen in life “out of turn”. Losing parents at a very early age, family not having means to educate you, not getting good jobs, not able to marry the right girl are some of the things which cause sadness. Good and bad things form an interweaving pattern. Depending on whether happiness covers more area under the curve or sadness depends on destiny.

 

But there are many things which are not controlled by destiny. Feeling happy is in our hands! I have given below a link to my old blog written in 2011. My style, content and references are old and amateurish. I was trying to learn to blog in those days. In this blog, I have written about my favourite things. These things always make me happy, whatever mood I am in.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/few-of-my-favourite-things/

There are many other things that make me happy. Small things like eating corn or roasted peanuts make me happy. Meeting new people also always makes me happy. Looking at Sunsets and Sunrises, watching the rain clouds coming towards you from the hills, watching sea waves dancing towards the shore. There are many things in life that can make one happy. It is not that you will be very happy only when you go to Switzerland. Go to a small hill near your house with an open mind and you can be equally happy. Dinner at Marriot and eating Batata wada in a small joint near home are equally pleasing experiences. It’s how we absorb the goodness in everything that is important. The events that make you sad are not in your hands. A death of a near one is bound to make you sad but moving on is also part of life. The flowing river water is always clean and beautiful to look at. Similarly, if we allow feelings of sadness to stagnate by not moving on, the beauty of the life also stagnates.

Imagine going through a sad phase in life. You have lost your job and are having difficulty to find one. An old friend drops in without informing you and he is not aware of your situation. You both have great fun remembering olden days and school time pranks.

You don’t have to feel, “Oh! I have lost my job. How can I be happy!” Afterwards, you can always share your problem with him and take his suggestions.

Sadness and happiness, are states of your mind which never continue for long; in fact, we should not allow sadness to continue for long. This is what I mean by sinusoidal wave shown above. In life, you see people who have every possible material thing but are very rarely happy. Similarly, you see people who have almost no materialistic luxuries but always look happy.

Friends, we can say that happiness is not an event but is the state of mind. The state of mind is dependent on us. Life is full of ups and downs; ups usually are followed by downs. Pleasure and Pain are the two real things that create the sensation of Happiness and Sadness. Happiness is nothing but freedom from pain.  To achieve the state of happiness, try always to be happy; sadness will come and go!