Friday, December 19, 2014

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up

Spending time in the old country includes visiting with quite a few older members of the extended family as well.  Some I have interacted with a lot, and minimally with others.

One of them is unwell and bed-ridden, as they say.

Looking at her, a stranger who had never known her, would never be able to imagine her as a charming and lively young woman that she once was.  The evidence is right there--across from her bed is a photograph of her with her husband.  An image that dates way back to when they were married decades ago.

When we don't know a person from the time they were young, then we are perhaps left with nothing but an image of them being their older selves.

All of us age.
We go grey, bald.
Our skin dries up and wrinkles all over.
We return the teeth to the cosmos.
The eyes that were once bright and mischievous become dull and lifeless.
The ears hear not the faint sounds as if there is no more sweet whispers in life.
The fancy colognes of the youth make no difference to the nose that does not pick up any scent, including our own odor.

But, when we are young and energetic, we do not pause to think that we, too, would one day begin to look like those at the old-age homes, and like the bed-ridden extended family relative.  And, worse, we fail to understand deep within ourselves that after the appointed hour, we will cease to exist even as the wrinkled, toothless, bald, grey, shuffling, smelly versions.

Near my home--yes, the only home I have, which is in Eugene--is a complex that houses quite a few super-senior citizens.  When I see them shuffling along on the bike path, or in their motorized transport, all I see are the old people.  It is not easy to visualize them as crazy kids diving into the river, or as young men and women in love.  We forget that they also went through childhood, adolescence, and youth, and everything else like the rest of us mortals.

We are deluded.  We are all Norma Desmonds living our own imaginary Hollywood lives!


Ramesh said...

We are not supposed to think of old age homes in childhood. We should enjoy youth and all the joys and excesses at that time.

Old age and infirmity is inevitable. When the time comes, that will be experienced. No point in brooding over it.

Sriram Khé said...

Most of us don't wait for hunger to strike us before we rush to the grocery store, under the logic that getting hungry is inevitable and, therefore, no point thinking about it. Instead, we plan ahead.
In this case too, understanding and appreciating this aspect of life will make us plan for our own pre-exit years. In this process, one can certainly enjoy the youth in all its excesses. But, won't it be a lot wiser to understand that the looks that a person flaunts, for instance, is fleeting and many of the wrinkled frames of today were also good-looking people once? It is nothing but understanding the path that lies ahead of each and every one of us--if that youthful exuberance does not kill us less than halfway into the journey ...

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