Old Age Blues!

“Udayji, I retired from the government services six months ago. I have a good pension plan. I thought I could lead a leisurely, peaceful, happy, and comfortable life. But contrary to my expectations, I now am feeling bored, frustrated, depressed, and down. I don’t know how to kill time. My children are not giving me due respect and they talk back. Even my wife is not caring properly…” Santhosh Sebastian from Nagarkovil introduced himself as a regular reader of my website.
“Are your children dependent on you? ”
“No – they are well settled.”
“Then why are you getting involved in their lives and demanding them to respect you? Shouldn’t you let them live their life as per their wish?”
He didn’t reply.
“Is your wife working still?”
“No – she was a housewife…”
“During your office days, what did she do after you leave home for the office?”
“Probably in her social media groups or chatting with her friends..”
“Probably! That shows your care. Okay, she is still doing that. Good lady. She needs friends. She has to get occupied herself, right?”
“But she has to take care of me, right?”
“She has to take care of herself, too, right? You had the early information about retirement. You didn’t prepare for the change. And now blaming others for your situation.”
“Udayji, I thought of having comfortable and peaceful life…but my family is not supportive of that…”
“Your idea of such life may not sync with their life goal. Everyone is entitled to have individual likes and liberty. Let them do whatever gives them happiness. What’s your problem with it?”
“But I am not happy”
“Had you followed your Dharma, you would have been happy. As per our culture, now is the time for Vanaprastha (the stage of partial retirement from worldly life). It means you’ve withdrawn from your duties as a Grihastha (householder). Vanaprastha Dharma means sharing your knowledge and wealth with others, are you doing that?”
“I don’t want to share anything with others. No one needs my knowledge and I don’t want to share my hard-earned money with others…”
“Wealth doesn’t necessarily mean money. Time is the most precious wealth. You won’t get an extra second in life…”
“But I don’t want to waste my time on others,” he suddenly asked: “How do you kill time, Udayji?”
“Killing? I never had the luxury of a single spare second in life without any engagement. I have my profession, passion, and, travel. I learn at least one new topic/subject a day. I see at least one international movie a day. And importantly, I keep aside some time (which is most valuable for me) to share and care for others and interact with my readers. That’s Vanaprastha! If I get a single second spare, I have thousands of pending work to finish…”
“You know the art of being happy always. But my lifestyle was different. What can I do Udayji, please advise me?”
“I can’t advise but can share a few things based upon my learning and experience. As per Transactional Analysis (TA) of modern psychology, there are three major Ego States in you – a parent, an adult (youth), and a Child. These states are not stationary. They keep on changing depending upon many external and internal factors.”
“The child in you always seeks joy, laughter, and attention. The youth in you seeks pleasures in life, questions others, and wants to do some daredevil things. And the parent in you would want to help children (not necessarily the biological children) and share with the needy. If you understand and realize each thought/action based on these three states, you would be able to rectify your issues…”
“Udayji, I am also scared of death …How can I manage that?”
“You must read Kathopanishad then. The fear doesn’t help you. Anyways, you are dying and you have to die. It is just a matter of time. And billions of cells in you are dying every moment. Consider death as an upgrade in life. Be ready to welcome death at any moment. Consider the next moment in your life as a bonus allotted to you. Consider every next moment in life as an occasion to celebrate. Say ‘Thank God I am still alive and can experience the wonders and beauty around me’…”
“I presume you are now crossed sixty. Doesn’t it worry you?” he suddenly asked another question.
“Why would I worry about a natural progression? The people around me warn me that I am becoming older. I don’t feel much age-related changes mentally or physically, though, some minor health issues trouble me. Recently, I changed my bike as I love biking rather than car driving… Acquaintances around me warned: ‘Uday, at this age you should be careful. Don’t drive this kind of bike’. Recently, when I went for Zipline and Para-gliding, everyone around me tried to discourage me – you’re around 60 now, so you should be careful. So people around me feel that I am getting older. They warn as they worry about us. But I don’t worry about such things, as worry doesn’t help me…”
“I have a long bucket list . Do you have?”
“I don’t keep things for the future. But yes, I still have a few things – I am not sure if I can do it as those are not entirely in my hands… I want to ride Harley Davidson through the Wild West in the USA with my grandkids. I also want to experience parachuting and skydiving. I want to interact personally with all my readers and talk to them at least once….as said, some things are not entirely in our hands. But you should always work towards your bucket list. Don’t waste time…Don’t keep it for tomorrow.”
“Udayji, you always keep yourself busy, updating and upgrading…Practically, how does it help in being happy?”
“Santhosh, I have to keep the child, the youth, and the parent in me alive and vibrant. That’s the secret of happiness – for me and all.”
“How do you deal with those who discourage you and irritate you?”
“Oh, that’s simple. I would tell them – ‘My next upgrade is to get admission to Yama Dharma’s abode. I can do it without any of your certificates’. Santhosh, you don’t need any approval or conduct certificate from others. If my inner self is convinced, nothing else matters to me.”
“Okay Udayji, I will also try to be like you…”
“No Santhosh. Every human being is a unique expression. Don’t imitate anyone. Instead, ask yourself what would make you happy and do it accordingly. Remember, as a natural progression, you may not be able to move around like this in the future. So do whatever you love to do, do it ASAP, but within the pursuit of Dharma…”
Two lessons from this incident(talk) – 1. Everyone needs to prepare for life after retirement from the profession/career. 2. The fact is when you cross the sixties, you need friends more than your family – the majority of people don’t know this truth. So Santhosh’s wife is right, he is not. (Message number: 366)
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