I think each of us has a natural affinity to people of a certain age. An astrologer told me, when I was once again trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life, that I had an affinity to kids between 7 and 14 and with old people: above 65 or something. It made complete sense. I could never figure out why teaching didn’t work: didn’t I love kids? Yes, I love kids, but not the ones I was teaching. The ones I was teaching were between 13 and 17. No affinity there. (Well, individually there was some affinity, with the group as a whole: none).
For me kids are great and old people are great. I never even got along with kids when I was one. Thankfully they grew up just as I did, so that now I do get along with people my own age. 🙂
Our culture has a natural affinity too: young people – the ones between 15 and 25 – rule. They determine what’s hot and what’s not. They are the target audience for many commercials and tv programs. Everyone over 25 wants to get back to that feeling of youth – if not the mental angst of that age, at least the body they had then. Or perhaps even: the ideal youthful, slim body everybody wants to have at that age and later.
I guess in our time and place growing up isn’t fashionable. People are obsessed with their toys (aka cell phones, ipods etc.). And the USA can’t seem to figure out that what you loan you have to give back – and if you cannot give it back, you’re in trouble.
Personally I love growing up. This year is better than last and both are miles beyond my teens and early twenties. This too my astrologer told me: she said that I’d grow into myself. I’m so fascinated to see where I’ll be next year, and ten years from now. I can’t understand people who’d like to visualize their exact path from here till death. I’m more than happy to have life show me.
Where am I going with this rambling? Well – the cultural obsession with youth means old age is not relevant, doesn’t exist. Most of us are surprised by the troubles of old age, because we just get to ignore them most of the time. The Buddha had his life changing insight at 30 (or so) after seeing a sick man, an old man, a dying man and a monk.
Our lives are (talking about the West here), in many ways, just like that of the Buddha before he stepped onto the spiritual path: we too are protected from the negative aspects of life. In our case it doesn’t take a prizon created by an overprotective father. Instead our old people just get isolated from the rest of society. Illness gets safely hidden away in hospitals. Poor people live in another part of town or on the streets. It’s come to the point where people are seriously talking about disease as something that can be avoided if you just don’t think about it. Which means even more ignoring of the facts of life.
So what do you think about old people, death, dying? Any thoughts? How does old age relate to wisdom?