This is an age of accomplishments
Age doesn’t stop ambition.
What a wonder of wonders! A nonagenarian (93 years of age) Vallaba Josyula Sriramulu becoming “World Champion” in athletics! He was declared Athlete of Asia in 2016 in Australia. What an incredible accomplishment by this man past 93 when even teenagers complain of myriad ailments. Winning the gold medal in three race walk events – 5 km, 10 km and 20 kms – this grand old athlete, a superannuated naval commander was declared “Athlete of Asia” 2016 at the 10 day event that came to a conclusion on November 2016 in Perth (Australia) bringing laurels to his country of birth – India.
There are in India, a plethora of men and women of advancing age who can outperform even youngsters in the floodtide of youth. A woman aged around 95 in Tamil Nadu performed unique exercises including yogasana, taking the breath of onlookers away.
An intensive study in the British Medical Journal indicates that our brains start functioning at an age of infancy and begins to deteriorate by the time of attaining the age of 45. Examining the vocabulary, comprehension and memories of 7000,45 to 70 years old men and women, the researchers found a 3.6 per cent decline in the second half of their forties. But there abound exceptions. Oliver Cromwell who only stepped into the public realm in his late forties (he was born in 1599). He became the creator of the most formidable army in Europe and took it to supreme success. Thereafter he changed to civil government, became Lord Protector at the age of 53 whereafter a highly successful administrator in the annals of England until he breathed his last.
The history of the United Stated is encrusted with a host of such men and women. Senior George Bush, who sired George Bush
(both presidents of USA) is still healthily amongst us and at 85 could descend effortlessly in parachutes.
George Washington, born in 1732, had blossomed into a highly successful general in his late forties and was 57 when he became the president.
There were strings of enviable accomplishments during his term. His
Farewell of a September 1796 is a testimony to his
marvellous achievements that qualified him eminently to be called a statesman par excellence.
Abraham Lincoln, the President of USA, born in 1809 didn’t come to national prominence until he crossed his forties and all his immense achievements were made only in his fifties. General Dwight Eisenhower was 55 when he was supreme commander of the D-Day invasion of Europe. He was 62 when he became the US president and breathed his last on his birthday, owing to cardiac arrest while performing his official duties.
Ronald Reagan who impressively made his progress in his 40s, fifties and sixties became the president in his seventies. He became a well-known Hollywood hero initially and was a darling of the masses.
As regards the British prime ministers of the 19th and 20th centuries scores of them had made commendable accomplishments only comparatively late in life, sometimes abnormally late. Lord Palmerston, born in 1784 held cabinet office for a protracted period and died in harness as an octogenarian. He didn’t occupy 10 Downing Street until he was a septuagenarian. A fortnight before his sad demise, he accompanied Queen Victoria to witness a military review in Hyde Park. When she complained of the sweaty troops he replied: “Yes, Your Majesty, it’s known as espritde corps.” As he lay in bed about to breathe his last he said with a heavy voice, “Die my dear doctor? That’s the last thing I shall do.”
Gladstone was prime minister four times, on the last occasion when he was nearly 83. He was virtually deaf and blind but that didn’t preclude him from combining his prime ministerial duties with translating Homer and delivering lectures in Oxford with utmost fluency.
Stanley Baldwin was born in 1867 and lived in obscurity for a long number of years despite the fact he was an able MP. In 1922 when he was 55 he became a chancellor where after he became the prime minister over the head of wrathful Lord Curzon who described him as a person of utmost insignificance. Incidentally, Lord Curzon became the Viceroy of India and Curzon Road in Delhi is still there with apartments for government officials of top rank.
Lloyd George was born in 1863 and became the prime minister in 1916 and functioned with amazing energy and enthusiasm. Winston Churchill became the prime minister for the first time at the age of 65 and held the august office with supreme authority for five years.
In India also, Jawaharlal Nehru became the prime minister when he was past fifty and presided over the destiny of the nation for a protracted number of 14 years. He achieved myriad accomplishments although he committed a handful of blunders that proved costly to India. Late Bhimrao Ambedkar and a host of others who distinguished themselves as highly able ministers and Chief Minister of states started their careers quite late in India. Sardar Vallabhai Patel achieved integration of 500-plus pricely states in India when was past sixty.
Works of supreme distinction
Among the leading composers, for example, Verdi and Wagner were both born in 1813. They wrote works of supreme distinction at all periods of their lives. Verdi was 74 when he wrote Otello, and 80 when he produced Falstaff. Wagner was past 60 when he composed. Gotterdammerung and even older when he composed Tristan und Isolde.
Beethovan, the great musical genius was 53 when he wrote his great
Ninth Symphony. In
India, Balamuralikrishna, a musical prodigy of marvellous stature who passed away as recently as in 2016 wrote and sang hundreds of songs till he expired at the age of 86.
In the realm of painting and sculpture Michelangelo of global renown was born in 1475 and worked unceasingly till his last breath in 1564.
When he started his Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel he was 61. All his stupendous architecture was accomplished in middle age or later. He didn’t begin his work on St. Peter’s until he was 71.
In some instances, maturity comes early and also departs not long after. With some, the spark continues to burn for very long. Isaac Newton’s monumental work, Principia Mathematica on which he had prodigiously worked for a quarter century, was published when he was 45 years of age. Likewise Einstein’s special theory and his general theory of relativity were conceived when he was comparatively young. Their minds didn’t deteriorate after their superlative accomplishments. In these cases their brains’ function continued and didn’t cease early.
Recently, a 85-year old Nepali soldier Min Bahadur Serchen is contemplating to reach Mt. Everest again. He conquered this world’s highest peak when he was 76-year-old.
Vallaba Josyula Sriramulu