- Books, Literature, and Writing
How to Grow Old
Are you amazed when you hear some girls saying that they are not afraid of death, but of aging? It is true that a face full of wrinkles, eye bags, and senile plagues is somehow more unacceptable---so at least it seems to a young girl---than the end of life, upon which the market of skin-care and make-up products has expanded. A long series of creams, anti-wrinkle cream, eye-cream, moisturizing cream..., with numerous brands are a feast of eyes, and always stay in good business. Still not enough, beauty parlors are really good places to spend money for ladies, simply bottomless pits to drain savings. However, skincare creams are likely to protect skins in good conditions and postpone the time to become old, but by no means to stop aging; cosmetics can create a temporary attractiveness, but actually speed up aging because of chemicals, which is common sense. You might drop into the dark well of emptiness and loss when take off the mask, while all those compliments at the moment had become a joke. Probably in some morning, the first grey hair or a wrinkle between eyebrows shows in the mirror. “God, it is time. I am old.” Fear? Worry? However much you feel painful, you would not commit suicide. Not that many people would do that, even those who have announced that they are not afraid of death. Then, the question of how to overcome the feeling changes to the questionof how to grow old!
Bertrand Russell said, “An individual human existence should be like a river---small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.” As the metaphor describes, from birth to death, a life is a complete natural process with different stages or periods. During the stage of aging, at which ‘the waters flow more quietly’, while grey hairs, wrinkles, coarse skin... naturally come out, or in a word, youth has been disappearing without a trace. Imagine the moment, then it is understandable that young girls justifiably feel bitter in the thought of aging. However, an old lady who has experienced human joys and sorrows may feel satisfied with such a face, because she has achieved whatever work it was in her to do, and all those good and bad memories have been buried in wrinkles and turned into wisdom reflecting upon eyes, which has already created another kind of beauty: maturity, decency and wisdom. Compared with the rushing torrent, a quiet flow is a different view.
How to live a life is a philosophy and an attitude. Common people usually neither have devotion to be exceptional, nor have inclination to sense every life with heart.Let us see what is difference between visiting a same city in a day and in a night. You observe the city in the day with your eyes, streets, buildings, crowds, and traffic..., while you sense the city in the night with your mind,trees, lights, bridges, and peace... This is the attitude for a daily life: observing with eyes or sensing with mind!
When I volunteered as a patient visitor in a hospital, I met two special patients, Mr. Gary and Mr. Rahph. Gary was 78 years old. He was cut off one whole leg, and had cystic acne on his head. He was on operation time to time, but he seemed always happy. Every time I went to visit him, his first sentence was “Haha, I am still alive.” He told me what he had learned from his work as a fisherman and a lumberman when young. He had learned from being a member of a work-team how to live a happy life. “I am not afraid of death. I am ready.” He said, “I’ve already done what I am supposed to do the best.” Rahph, another patient who lived on the same floor with Gary, was 68 years old. He was a so small old man, and looked 10 years older than Gary. He did not have cancer or any other severe disease, but just old. He always took a walker, kept his head down, sat alone far away, and moaned. “I miss my mum.” He was weeping, “I used to work in Toronto. I remember everything...” He had a very old Bible. I read the Bible for him, but he fell asleep. These are not only two different individuals, but two different life attitudes. To be Gary or Rahph? You choose yourself.
I taught myself how to grow old
Primarily, life is a journey. From gradle to grave, every phase can be an attractive view. The key lies in the passion for little things in daily life: flowers on streets in traffic noise, birds flying above gigantic constructions, sunset after a long tired day...; for a simple but solid goal, a simple but fulfilled ideal for the future until the final rest to a peace. Keep smiling, learn how to forgive and enjoy every moment of everyday life, happiness and unhappiness. In a word, keep the heart in young, however old you are! As long as the mind is in young, the cheeks are always rosy.
Which one would you like choose to be?
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