Modern western culture portrays old age as somthing scary, ugly, the end of all the good stuff, to be fought veheminately. Celebrities go to great lengths to stave off its onslaughts with diets, creams and cosmetic surgery till they look like walking skulls.
I remember the East where old age is venerated due to its wisdom, the old retired couples in China dancing in the park every evening, dining out surrounded by their children and grandchildren and how natural it seemed.
Part is due to the much healthier lifestyle (you seldom see old Chinese with a stick let alone a walker or wheelchair) and family ties are far stronger. The widow or widower helping with the grandkids seldom find themselves lonely. Old age is seldom lamented, rather seen it as a time of well deserved rest and enjoyment. There’s almost a holiday spirit about it.
How far have we in the west strayed from the natural concept of age. I came across the phrase, “old age is only disappointing if we find ourselves older in years without growing closer to God.” This also set me thinking. Feeling our lives have been well lived, looking back with satisfaction and forward with expectation gives peace.
The frantic striving to live every second because there are new wrinkles etc. so full of fear, for cancer, for strokes, for disabilities, drains us of the joys of old age. Growing closer to God brings peace and wisdom and with it the ability to enjoy this golden age slowly, deeply, like a vintage wine. We once knew this.
Age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress;
And as the evening twilight fades away,
The sky is filled with stars invisible by day.
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
How can you multiply your happiness? Rejoice in the happiness of others, thrill to their achievements, feel enthralled by their new relationship, watch with joy as a smile lights up their face. Why stop at only your own happiness, partake of that of others and share yours with them. Make it multiply and multiply!
Envy and self-centeredness are the enemies of joy. Cast them away in the bin, set love in your heart and share in the joy!
The words of this old, old, song came in my head today and I paused to reflect share a few of my favourite “freebies”. (Maybe you’d like to share some too.)
1)Top of the list has to be love. This one is absolute (in spite of the adverts.) You can buy sex, you might even be able to “buy” a beautiful wife or hunky candy boy, but money can’t make someone really love you (in fact real love, in its many forms tends to be more common among the poor.)
2)Next must come life. This is less absolute, as a lack of money for food, protection, medical help etc. can mean someone loses it, but the gift of life its self comes free to rich and poor.
3)Water. Now I know some enterprising multinationals are trying very hard to get control of this (something to look out for folks! Don’t let them do it – boycott bottled water.) But water has this wonderful tendency to drift right through their fingers, evaporating into the heavens and, replenishing its self, return as free rain. I love water!
4)Happiness. Again don’t be fooled by mass media and all those fake smiling face book or magazine pages. Things cannot make you happy, nor can money, so don’t spend your life chasing the illusionary carrot. I’ve lived long, and social observation is a hobby of mine (I like to learn about people). Whereas happiness can be found in rich homes now and then (generally you find someone with a big heart at the root of it) I’ve found it’s far more often a guest of the poor. (I heard Mexico rated as the happiest country in the world – Mexico??? They have it hard there. Happiness is pretty hard to do a survey on but the conclusion they came to is worth pondering.)
5)Then yes, there’s the sky. Every inch of land most places has its registered owner (especial here in the tiny UK lol!) but the sky is free. Anyone can look up anytime and enjoy it. Of course man has messed it up in some places with pollutions, but just get outside the purple haze and you can feast for free on clouds, light and pure colours.
So that’s my top five, would you like to add a few of yours?