How to grow old with grace?
Undeniably, ageing “is a physical phenomenon and is something that is inevitable”.
Corollary to these natural process are the graying, wrinkles, drying of our skins and the loosening of body muscles. These are part and parcel of getting old.
Indeed, old age and the process of growing old should not be viewed as negative by society and apathetically by our family.
All of us grow old and one certain day, we shall all die! That is one of the inexorable laws of life!
Progression and decay are the twin laws of life. Development and destruction go hand and hand.
On this juncture I would like to connect the discussion with regard to the concept of the ancient Greeks in relation to health and happiness.
We should have a positive attitude towards life, in doing so, we are also in a sense echoing the ethical position held by the Stoics of ancient Greece. Stoicism is a philosophical ethical school of thought founded by the Cypriot Zeno. To them, to be stoical is to face destiny with courage and dignity. It simply means that whatever calamity or misfortune or problems humans are facing in this life, we must all confront it with fortitude and determination.
Another notable distinction held by the Stoics is their belief in following the natural laws of life! Nothing happens accidentally, they are all product of necessity. To accept life for what it is, is to be brave and to be brave is to have calmness and tranquility.
Courage means accepting whatever happens to this life and obeying the inherent dictates of nature. Nothing happen for no reason at all, everything is part of Mother Nature’s plan and design. Life must be lived to the fullest, yet death is not to be sorry about!
Death is but the meaning of life or to put it in another way, one will never ever understand the meaning of life; if that individual will not appreciate the significance of dying. We live to die and by dying we know and understand in the lasts days of our lives the very meaning of our lives.
This led to another Greek philosopher by the name of Epicurus to state that: “death is nothing to us”. What he meant is that to live a meaningful and noble life is far more important than the way or the manner that one dies.
It is widely accepted that the Greek Father of Medicine is Hippocrates. Up to this day, member of the medical health practitioners are required to take the Hippocratic Oath on the day of their graduation and this oath was a necessary requirement before they are allowed to become member of the health profession.
According to Jostein Gaarder,
“The most essential safeguards against sickness, according to the Hippocratic medical tradition, were moderation and a healthy lifestyle. Health is the natural condition. When sickness occurs, it is a sign that Nature has gone off course because of physical or mental imbalance. The road to health for everyone is through moderation, harmony, and a ‘sound mind in a sound body’”.
Later Plato will add up that to be truly healthy, a person must not only have a healthy mind in a healthy body but also a healthy soul.
He argues in his conception of the tripartite division of the soul that, what is the point of having a healthy body if the mind is unhealthy? Or, assuming if the mind is active, yet the body is weak, still this is no good at all. Hence for him, all the elements must be there. Wherefore, to have a complete well-being, a person must have a healthy body, with a healthy mind to complete his/her soul.
Aristotle follows his teacher, Plato. His ethics contain echoes of Greek medicine: it is only by exercising balance and temperance would a person achieve a happy, harmonious and indeed, a healthy life!
In conclusion, I am firm in my position that we should learn to take life as it is, as many are doing nowadays.
Truly, “ageing should not be feared but faced with optimism and hopefulness”.
Finally, the ultimate question is not whether we are 25 or 35 or 75, because in truth and in fact it does not matter, because in the final analysis; the determinative question is: are we living a meaningful life worthy of our stature, character and if I may be allowed to add, of our age?
As Father Socrates’ admonition that he used to persistently exasperate the Athenians:
“The unexamined life is not worth living”.
[Photo courtesy Otrazhenie.]