As the age-old proverb goes ‘old is gold’, can the same be said for people passing through old age? Is old age a phase of wisdom and thoughtfulness that could only be compared to ‘golden age’ of anything? A phase full of self reflection and wiseness or is it simply loneliness?
A case could be made with both possibilities depending on the life of an individual, but the ubiquitous belief that universally exists is the attainment of contentment and wiseness when a person reaches the far end of lifespan. The life experiences slowly add up to accumulate over time and reveal themselves in the form of those fine lines of wrinkles on the forehead and around eyes. Oftentimes, when we are faced with life situations, we are told to turn to elders for well-thought advises.
An example can be drawn from the Hollywood film ‘Scent of a Woman’, in which Al Pacino is a retired Lt Colonel who is blind and lives in a small abode in the backyard of his niece’s house. As she travels during thanksgiving, she hires a young man to look after him. The young man in his teen agrees to look after him for some quick money but instead, Al Pacino puts him through various tough situations only to eventually teach him some valuable life lessons and change his perspective towards life.
With all the wisdom and maturity, the old people should be really content and happy providing directions to all. They must be really holding an important position of discretion keeping them busy in their old age. But, is it really the case with all of them?
If we take a classroom of any grade, school, city or country – no two children are the same and have the same aptitude and interest – be it any topic or subject. Each one of them have varied interests, be it sports, arts, mathematics and these too stand to change with time. With all these variations in exposure and deviation of every child, why do we expect them to grow old to be wise and full of wisdom equally?
Our mind probably works best in generalizing everything around us in order to simplify them. The same could be said for old timers who could be as varied as they were in their childhood to the extent of being extremely immature and silly even at their old age. Like we say, some never grow up, perhaps many never did. While many find ways to keep themselves busy in their old age, some become deep thinkers evaluating their own life and things around them, then there are some who get extremely lonely in old age especially when movement becomes limited.
So, it is really hard to tell whether an old-aged person is full of wisdom and self reflection or simply lonely. Should we be expecting them to be wise and a strength of pillar for us? Probably not from all of them and probably not everybody can. But then, should we be learning things on our own with our own experiences? Probably yes but then with our highly distractive lives full of information overload, we would probably never step back and contemplate our lives and priorities, instead go about life aimlessly.
Again, what should then be the role of old-aged people in our lives? This will probably vary from one extreme to the other depending how a child grows into adulthood and then to old age. The old timers around us could be light years ahead of us with practical wisdom or we could perhaps be more accurate and relevant based on the current state of society and its people. Just the way we find so many unique children, every person into old age would be different with a different level of awareness and wisdom to offer.
The best we can do is take the best from each one of them, not stereotype them and put pressure, instead try our best to learn out of life and share it further or perhaps, simply grow old to be silly and enjoy being just that.