Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Live - - OPINION -

Amar­jit Singh Hayer

I r e a d Wi l l i a m Shake s p e a re’s “The Pas­sion­ate Pil­grim” and Robert Brown­ing’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra” when I was only 18. Bub­bling with the en­thu­si­asm of a cal­low youth, I sang with Shake­speare: Youth is full of plea­sure, age is full of care; youth like sum­mer morn, age like win­ter weather; youth like sum­mer heat, age like win­ter bare; youth like full sport, age’s breath is short; youth is nim­ble, age is lame; youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold; youth is wild, age is tame; Age, I do ab­hor thee, Youth I do adore thee.

Robert Brown­ing’s eu­logy of old age had no ap­peal for me then: “Grow old, along with me, The best is yet to be.” It is only now when I am 78 that I have re­alised the wis­dom Brown­ing dis­tilled in these sim­ple words. My old age is de­cid­edly bet­ter than my youth and mid­dle age. Dur­ing youth, stud­ies, sex­ual urges and anx­i­ety about un­cer­tain fu­ture kept me on ten­ter­hooks. Youth was a pe­riod of con­tin­ual stress.

In mid life, mun­dane mat­ters like earn­ing a liv­ing, rais­ing a fam­ily, keep­ing up with the Jone­ses and striv­ing for so­cial recog­ni­tion sapped all my en­ergy. Par­tic­i­pat­ing in the rat race was the main ob­jec­tive.

Some peo­ple re­mem­ber child­hood nos­tal­gi­cally and call it the best pe­riod of their lives. A child is de­pen­dant on oth­ers for his or her needs. There is no free­dom of thought and ac­tion. Par­ents, teach­ers and so­ci­ety put too many re­stric­tions on what one should eat, think and do.

They try to mould the child ac­cord­ing to their views and whims. A sen­si­tive child feels suf­fo­cated and yearns to be an adult so that he can live the way he wants to.

But as an adult too he is dis­il­lu­sioned when he finds that the so­ci­ety ex­er­cises ex­ces­sive con­trol on his con­duct.

For my­self, I can say, life be­gan at 60. Re­tire­ment was a re­lease from pro­fes­sional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and fa­mil­ial du­ties. By then my chil­dren were set­tled in their own life. I had fi­nan­cial se­cu­ri­ties and had no need to work for money af­ter re­tire­ment.

The last 18 years have been the best pe­riod of my life. I have en­joyed good health be­cause I think af­ter the age of 50, health de­pends more on mind than body. If one’s mind is calm and con­science clear, body re­mains in good work­ing con­di­tion.

My favourite teacher used to em­pha­sise that at­ti­tudes are more im­por­tant than facts. All along I have pur­posely cul­ti­vated a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude that helps me tackle prob­lems.

I have taken to cre­ative writ­ing. I write about ex­pe­ri­ences and per­sons who gave me joy and in­spired me. The read­ers ap­pre­ci­ate this type of writ­ing and find it in­ter­est­ing and in­spir­ing. Their feed­back mo­ti­vates me to share more ex­pe­ri­ences.

We find this ac­tiv­ity mu­tu­ally re­ward­ing.

Life is a plant, which, when in blos­som, gives joy with fra­grance but it be­comes more valu­able when it bears fruit. Life is a river, which erodes rocks in the hills but be­comes more use­ful when it de­posits its residue as rich soil in the delta.Old age be­comes en­joy­able and fruit­ful if one shares one’s ex­pe­ri­ences with oth­ers. Wise-old peo­ple do not de­mand, they dis­trib­ute; they do not shrink, they ex­pand; they do not spread sor­row, they ra­di­ate joy.

I feel there is no greater goal in life than joy and one gets it by giv­ing it to oth­ers.


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