LIFE BEGAN AT 60; RETIREMENT WAS A RELEASE FROM PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND FAMILIAL DUTIES
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.