What is it to age?
Every child hears the great song, “When you would grow up…” This is not something alien but a story being repeated since generations in every house. But what does it mean to grow up? Does it mean celebrating birthdays and adding years to the physical body or it has some another very important and different meaning?
Growing is of two types:
- Adding years of age as we generally understand it or Growing Old
- Growing up .
The first type of growing is purely a physical process – a process pertaining to body of which we have no say in. It is something we can’t interfere with – like that of breathing, and blinking of eyes, heart beating etc. So we have no say in it. And that is why we call it Growing Old.
But growing up is a choice. And it surely seems to be a choice not many of us make for. Growing up is about growing mentally, which makes for our maturity. It’s about gaining wisdom. Heavily misunderstood, maturity has nothing to do with physical age, hence please don’t get confused about it. The typical societal norms that vouch so hard for elders must be respected and their experience must be valued etc. is sheer stupidity. Had it been so the 60s plus population should have been the wisest of the lot. But we surely have totally different experience with them. Even in professional environment, experience which is a product of aging is given too much importance. The fact is, by little observation you can easily find out that in reality it is 1 or 2 years of experience repeated number of times. I wonder, if experience is so much of value, why do organizations let employees retire at the age of 60! And why is promotion not a function of age!
The good news is, growing up mentally is the only growth a person can gift to himself. Needless to say, it is not so easy. It requires one to take responsibility – which is not duty, but ability to respond and not react. It demands that one must not accept a mediocre life but let it blossom to its highest potential and not reduce it to mere product of society. What most of us do is accept slavery of society and take everything in without examining, live in its influence, have a scripted and patterned life and do what others are doing and approve of. Thus life becomes ‘Garbage in and garbage out’. Growing up mentally demands that one must be aware of his environment, be attentive to forces trying to act on him and doesn’t be a parasite.
Remember the saying – बच्चा बूढ़ा एक समान !!! Ever wondered how and why? Superficially, it may be justified by saying that both are dependent upon others, both have free time and they need others etc. But actually it means that both are similar in their mental age (Well, that also means that throughout their young times the old never grew…Is it not true for you???)
Watching many such old people around, I wonder what went wrong with them. India is not a country equipped with many old age homes and other facilities. And hence, most of the old age people are left to be taken care by their children etc. In fact, children are brought up for this purpose only – बुढ़ापे का सहारा – the support of old age. Interestingly enough, mostly, parents feel that they are being taken advantage of, since children are working and have no time for them. On top of it parent’s help is expected in managing their homes. But, I wonder, aren’t such children product of parent’s ambitions? Wasn’t it so that these parents once had sleepless nights for they wanted their children to become competitive and participate in the mad competition and achieve? Haven’t they taken enough pride in telling others how good their children are?
Surely, something has gone tremendously wrong. Life was never lived, celebrated. The beauty was never seen. They never stopped to take a deep breath. They always kept running. Life was always fought against. Life always remained an enemy. Now the same has been passed over to the next generation who also, without examining, has internalized all this.
We have not learnt to age graciously, magnificently. It always is a petty life. Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional. But life is beautiful and worth living only for those who grow up. To rest, it is a misery.