A couple of experiences, one cinematic and the other from real life, stimulated my gray cells to reflect on a subject that I have blogged upon earlier. How do we deal with the aging process from which there is inevitably no escape? Scientific research dwells on the possibilities of reversing this course, but for most of us, this is of academic interest only. We are left to accept the reality that the number of candles on the birthday cake increases every year. Whether we count those candles and brood or rejoice over another year completed on this planet is totally up to us.
Early this May, I hit the theaters to watch the Bollywood film 102 Not Out. I know that this is a baseless reason, but with no female lead characters, my expectations from the film were not too high. Contrary to what I had anticipated, the 102-minute-long comedy drama (a sheer coincidence that the duration matches the title!) kept me engrossed and presented a wonderful life lesson.
The film rests on a simple premise, yet it is exemplary. Legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan brilliantly plays the 102-year-old father to immensely gifted actor Rishi Kapoor who essays the role of his 75-year-old son. The father’s sunny disposition with a desire to beat the record of the oldest living man is not in sync with the grumpy temperament of his son who scowls at the slightest pretext and constantly worries about his health on trivial grounds. The humor springs from the fact that it is the father who threatens to send his son to an old-age home unless he frees himself from his grouchy manners. He succeeds and manages to achieve a turn-around in his son, and as he sends him on a trip down memory lane, the importance of the simple joys of living once again make sense to the curmudgeon. What essentially looms large is the personality of the centenarian who has a zest for life, making the best of every day and living it to the fullest. In spite of being aware of a malignant condition he has, the man never loses his optimism and liveliness. The underlying theme in the movie is that age is just a number. It is the mind here that is the captain of the ship steering the individual to either immerse in the ecstasy of living and multiply the joys or sulk and dwell on the failures.
My second experience stemmed from an evening that blended music, mediation, and an inspirational keynote speech in a single event. What I would cherish as one of the most memorable moments of that day is having the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing performance of India’s pride Pandit Jasraj. At the age of 88, he still manages to sweep his audience into a complete trance with his charming and soulful melodies. The panache and energy level of his renditions were awe-inspiring. If this is not a living example of dedication, perseverance, and positivity, I don’t know what else is!
I am definitely not on a mission to moralize. It is true that as we age, certain obstacles come our way naturally and deter us from functioning the way we want to. Health-related problems may not allow us to do things even if we have the desire to do them in a certain way. Blessed are those individuals who are free of illness and have a robust health. But physical ailments aside, a positive attitude can unequivocally change the tide of life. We cannot stop ourselves from getting older, but we can definitely find ways to make our lives more meaningful.
Many a time, our mental inhibitions happen to be the greatest barriers. Some time or the other, all of us must have definitely heard a parent, a grandparent, or even an acquaintance saying how old he or she is to learn a craft, go on a trip, or do something fun. If circumstances permit and if health factors do not pose any hazard, one’s age should not pose a restriction to enjoy life to its zenith.
We can age in the body but not in the mind. Happiness lands by itself on the doorstep of one who inherently has that youthful spirit to always look for the silver lining in the cloud, to watch out for the rainbow after the storm. A quote from Columbian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez beautifully drives home the point: “Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom.” And in tune with that line of thought should emerge the motto of life to wash away the worries of aging and drown in joie de vivre!