YOU ARE NEVER OLD
I am reaching the most important age this October 30. I will be 80 years young and according to my biological age, I am 69 this year.
Definition of biological age: We think of chronological age as the amount of time since you were born—whatever your driver’s license says—whereas biological age is the age your body resembles or functions at. Even though two people may both be thirty years old chronologically, one of them could have a biological profile that is closer to twenty-five, whereas the other might have a biological profile of thirty-five. see yours at https://www.biological-age.com/).
I am noting that the age of very deep reflection is even deeper now. There are many points of view and many research theories about prolonging “old age” or making more time for life and avoid death. But death does come some time and that is not a philosophical exploration but a reality.
However, as a young man, I was very curious bout what is death all about and searched for ideas at temples in India, Zen centers, Buddhist teachings, and so on. All are the most interesting concepts worthy of research and reflection.
Now as I am reaching the age when reflection is a way of taking time to just BE. I am now exploring a book called “The Time of Our Lives: Growing Older Well” by Robert Dessaix who is 80 and lives in Hobart, Australia. A review of his book was written by Stephen Romei and published in the Weekend Australian. I was so inspired by the review that I bought the book and finished reading it this week.
I am delighted and even entertained by this author who represents, to me, a real OZZIE bloke. His point is: “you are never too old, “there is no fountain of youth” and he starts to give a vivid and joyful description of his own experience. How to grow old happy and well is the theme of his narrative and is full of examples of the encounters he had over his lifetime with his friends.
Since I am completing 80 years, this October, I am joining his club of elders. The book is divided into several topics by the review written by Stephen Romei and thus we can reflect on every topic in the book and then read the book. I highly recommend it.
1. Robert Dessaix suffered a heart attack in 2001 walking on Oxford st in Sydney. “I technically died twice,” he said. He was revived first by a paramedic and the second time in hospital. He describes his experience as “nothing happened because there is nothing that can happen”. There is no bright light nor any meetings with the deceased, but it is like a mobile phone that goes ‘dead’ – just dead!
2. Aged Care - it is a time when Robert visits Rita at the aged care home in Hobart. He describes her life there right up to the final days. His observation of Rita as a characteristically old Rita. She cannot think clearly, and states that somehow Robert is someone called Olive and she constantly asks him if she can come home. Her expressions are not heard by anyone nor anyone cares about her feelings. This is surely a different place from home, and according to statistics, it will be needed as the populations grow older over the years and more of us will need such care.
3. Sexuality – the author states that “ we need to learn and acknowledge that people’s sexual needs will be met in different ways – raging erections, however, are out of the question as we grow older and appreciating our freedom to either be loving or lonely but certainly LOVE IS FOREVER”.
4. Friendships – This is certainly an inner feeling of Love that can never be bought.” Our friendships, affections, attachments, understandings and intimacies, some long-lasting and some temporary are the most difficult and most rewarding kinds.”
5. Heaven and Hell – Labelling or not labeling the beliefs of heaven and hell, is something personal and depends on cultural reinforcement. The hell drama of a devil holding you on pitchfork or being rewarded by angels on a cloud sitting around you is like a TV drama. We know it is a play, but we all want to believe in what the actors say.
6. The Arts – Although we have great art, music, and stories, many are over one hundred years old and still inspire us, but the modern culture of today is teetering on the edge of an abyss. ‘It is a culture that is losing its soul and is nearing death”. I am thinking now of the youth culture following YouTube or Tik Tok. There is some attempt at entertainment, but it mostly gives vent to nothingness.
7. Clutter – As we grow old, we must get rid of things as much as we can. Declutter all the things that accumulate in your life and free yourself for new space to create new projects. He said that the only book worth keeping is CRIME & PUNISHMENT by Dostoyevsky. I would personally keep my Gestalt therapy books to remember to BE HERE AND NOW.
8. Travel – I agree fully with Dessaix that we must travel as much as possible when we are young. In this way, we can remember all the adventures when we are old. I was extremely fortunate in this area of my life as I would travel around the world for six months after 3 years of teaching at the University of Queensland.
9. Caring less – less care (worrying) for people’s opinions, evaluations, comments about our self, that have little importance. This is true freedom of being yourself and to be able to tell some people to just “piss off”! and enjoy their reaction. This is the secret of nurturing yourself.
10.Contentment and happiness – The difference between these two concepts is central to Dessaix and I agree. As we grow older, we realise that contentment is much broader than happiness. Part of this is that we can share our contentment with others. Naturally, I do feel happy when I am dancing to music or listen to my favorite Mexican 'ranchers', and particularly my happiness is great dancing the Tango. I took Tango lessons for some weeks, years ago, and still can happily dance the Tango. It is the secret of a good life.
11.Remembering and forgetting – writing, painting or just being involved in my own projects is a way of putting my experiences either on a canvass or a book. Then things are ‘set in place’ and people can then recall what you did in your life. I have written my own story in a book called JUST PASSING THROUGH, as a way to give my friends, relatives, and my two sons my version of my life so they can ‘re-call’ me. Recalling stories is one way not to lose memory.
Finally, a quote by Dessaix: “I do not think that many of us find death ‘unbearable’ at all. It’s the process of dying that we are fearful of”.
HAVE A GREAT TIME !!