In our society youth is glorified and as a result of this distorted image, most people want to remain younger longer. If this were not the case, then there would never be such a market for anti-aging cream, hair color, wigs and transplants, and plastic surgery. But all these items and services do very well and continue to prosper. What would it be like if we never saw our face? After all, we cannot see it through our eyes and we need the assistance of the reflection in a mirror, a photograph or the reaction of another person to know what we look like. What if we didn’t? Do women put makeup on when they spend a day at home alone? Do men dress up in a suit? And why do women apply hair color containing chemicals, which they know are not good for them, just to look younger? If our society respected their old folk, like many indigenous people do, and wanted to hear their wisdoms and stories about their ancestors, then perhaps old people could become proud of being old and wear their graying hairs and wrinkles like a badge of honor, gained with valor through the years. Simply by successfully living through all stages of life, a person inevitably acquires experience and learns by their mistakes. If they had a forum within which to share this wisdom with others, there would definitely be fewer people suffering from the diseases of old age, which no doubt are in part caused by a lack of direction or purpose and the fact that there is no audience to talk to. Living in an old folks’ home and sharing their time mostly with other old people who mostly have similar stories to tell is not a very inspiring circumstance, within which to practice one’s art of sharing.
It makes so much more sense for old people to live within the community, to become the elders that others look up to and seek guidance from. And although old people do not move with the times at the increasing pace at which the generations seem to be galloping forward from ideals to ideas, they still have a lot to offer as the historians and pioneers of their age, who in their time were the rebels against the prudery and limitations of their elders.
With every generation new children appear, as the youth of yesterday ages and become parents, ushering in the young. And always the children are yet again connected in to the incredible vigor of youth, the supply of which never seems to decrease or wane. It is a miracle of creation engineering that this universal allowance continues unabated, to the inspiration of all who perceive it. The human race continues, despite hardships, pollution, diseases, wars and other calamities, both natural and unnatural. Life springs eternal, as if it were never going to stop.
The repetitious nature of this unending cycle must bring hope to the human mind and heart, demonstrating that God and nature are on our side, fueling the urge to continue and grow. And as the generations come and go, and as one set of humans age, die and are replaced by another, it speaks of continuance and provides evidence that we too will live on.
It is the natural order of things that a seed planted in the spring grows throughout the season and sheds its foliage in the fall, only to fertilize and nurture next year’s growth. And so it is the duty and privilege of this generation to ensure that the next crop of humans have a rich soil within which to plant their seeds.
The only way to a happy and productive old age, according to the author, is to fully embrace it and make the most of it while it lasts. Even the pain and difficulties are experiences that can add to one’s knowledge and history. How we handle each obstacle on our path will become part of our tool kit and preparation for the life yet to come, an experience which we will take with us when we die. If we can see ourselves as the guardians of the spirit of the age and take this time of life to pass the torch of wisdom to the next generation, we will have served an important purpose and played our part well in the drama or tragic-comedy that we call life on Earth.
From Rainbow Woman by Joanna Infeld