The Phenomenon called “Growing Old”
…its benefits and disadvantages
By Apolinario Villalobos
Nobody should be afraid of growing old. It is among the many normal human processes that are part of existence. Simply put, growing old means, one continues to live, for if he does not…he is dead. Among Filipinos, there is a joke about unhealthy foods that make one not grow old which means that they will make him die at a young age.
The people of the Bible, especially, the Patriarchs were known to have lived beyond a century. Nowadays, if ever there are people who are still alive at the age of 100 or more, they are esteemed, treated with respect and showered with admiration. In some countries the centenarians are honored like heroes, subjected to interviews to extract information about the food that they eat and their daily habits. Those who belong to prominent families admit that they take “maintenance drugs” and their foods are strictly chosen. But for the poverty-stricken, they consider growing old as just some kind of luck, as they have no money for regular medical check-ups, supplemental drugs and healthy food…add to that their exposure to the elements, as some of them live on sidewalks and makeshift huts.
In the Philippines as in some other countries, the most cherished benefits of the senior citizens are the “discount” on basic necessities and privilege of not falling in the regular long line of customers in malls, supermarkets and banks. The government extends the much-deserved benefits in recognition of their contribution in propping up the stability of their nation.
Unfortunately, along with growing old is the degeneration of the ageing body parts. The rich try to remedy this unavoidable occurrence with the expensive stem cell therapy, aside from facial makeover that involves the traditional plastic surgery. Others take the risk of undergoing implant or transplant procedure. We then, see photos of celebrities with almost unreal faces – smooth like a plastic sheet without any tell-tale trace of a single wrinkle at an age when their faces are supposed to be furrowed with the dreaded lines.
There are some people who cannot accept the fact that everything on earth has its end. Boulders crumble, rivers and lakes go dry, forest gets denuded….how much more for the living? Aside from the reduction of population caused by natural death, there’s the so-called survival of the fittest among the lesser creatures with the strong consuming the weak, but in the case of man, just simply the killing of the weak by the strong during wars. Then, there’s the wrath of nature that devastates thousands of lives with a single stroke, and, of course, the plague of diseases.
We cannot stop ageing. Instead of dreading it, the process should prepare us for the day when we finally call it quits and bid goodbye to the world. It should instead, prepare us by making amends with our enemies, paying our debts, and of course, thank whoever gave us life. I found out that planning comes naturally for those who are positive about this ageing process, as they no longer regard with importance their amassed worldly gains, but instead find ways to dispose them, one of which is by distributing them among charitable institutions. Common sense dictates that “travel” is more pleasant if there is no “heavy baggage” to burden us. This realization comes only if we accept growing old as part of our life that cannot be shaken off by scientific interventions.
One of my friends told me that she gave instructions to her heirs that when she die, she wants a smiling face, not a serious one, for her friends to view inside the box of final solace, so they better find an embalmer who can do the best job. That is what I call the best preparation for the “day” which growing old cannot deter.