The other day I read an article about an interview with 2 of the actors in the film Las Vegas, a comedy (wouldn’t you know it!) about 4 senior citizens. They were asked what was the best thing about ageing. They were both silent for a while until one of them said “Nothing”. This reflected my own experience when I was trying to get people’s views on the positives and negatives of ageing. Most people contacted didn’t answer. I could only assume that they had this same negative feeling. Considering that this part of our lives lasts for decades I find this very sad. I can’t imagine spending so much of my life feeling that there is nothing good about it.
Interestingly one of the actors interviewed went on to talk about the fact that ‘as you get older you have this natural desire to make things better, if you can, before you’re gone’. To me this is a natural progression in being an elder. We’ve seen so much, done so much, learned so much, experienced so much it makes sense that we should want to pass all this on to those who come after us, to fast track their knowledge I guess, to speed improvements up. Are the events in places such as Syria any different from similar experiences previously in other countries? Can we apply what we learned in the past of what worked then to fast track solutions to problems such as this and cut down on the horror and misery people suffer until the solution is found? Many of them have the same elements such as a dictatorship regime which is finally toppled. Even gentle Thailand is currently suffering. The many millions of people who suffered in the second world war, today’s older people, knew how terrible that was and at the time hoped we could learn from it.
Can we combine this with a feeling that there is nothing good about ageing when in fact the really good thing is that many of us are free from the commitments of past points in our lives (work, children, mortgages) and we now have the time to make a difference. Unfortunately the main message about growing older we tend to give the world is that it is a time just to relax and enjoy ourselves. If we adopt this attitude then we reap what we sow and it is no wonder society tends to look down on us as a financial burden. Even if we have been able to provide for our retirement financially I suspect that we are still a burden in terms of health costs with so many medications and procedures subsidised by the government.
I’m not suggesting that we should work until we drop. Far from it. Apart from anything else as we become more frail over the years we become restricted in what we can do. What I am suggesting is that we use all we have learned and experienced to fast track the world towards becoming a better place. Then we could feel really good about ourselves and our lives. The trouble is our present attitude towards ourselves and our lifestyles creates an environment in which we are thought to have nothing to offer the world. No wonder so many people feel that there is nothing good about ageing.