Sunday, October 5, 2014

Coming of Age

Maturity may bring about some level of sensibilities but age has nothing to do with maturity and sensibilities. Perhaps age and experience can make a difference in the way we approach a subject or the manner we  perform or execute a particular task or tackle a certain problem, but I find that  age has nothing to do with how one thinks.  While I am not saying that we are no older than how we feel, I like to believe that we remain forever ourselves no matter what age we are. The saying that people mellow as they grow old often eludes me although it is not impossible for us to become better persons when we make conscious efforts to improve ourselves if we know and acknowledge our failings.

I believe age plays a role in the way one processes and assesses information. How we  assess a certain situation largely depends on what we have learnt from previous experiences although our  regards about the world generally remain unchanged at best they may be manifested in different forms over the years. It is interesting to note that in  the French classes that I attend at the Alliance Francaise, I see that students who are still going to school somehow are much relaxed during classes whereas adults have a tendency to try to rationalize everything and analyze the workings of certain sentences or the logic of what is  printed in the texts instead of simply enjoying the texts and feel the language. How wonderful it is  to be totally unassuming and open to whatever information  you might be handed.

These days, apart from reading novels and some non-fictions, I also read articles that talk about how to prevent dementia and avoid amnesia simply because I get a little worrisome whenever  I become forgetful. Then I remind myself that I was also a forgetful and absent minded person particularly in my teens as I never remembered anything I had studied in school anyway. I used to take everything rather seriously in my youth when I was often  lacking in confidence and at times feeling smug and righteous and having problems with angst and mood swings  and now that I try not to take most things too seriously, I do not think that older necessarily means wiser. One thing I have learnt is that the world remains utterly unchanged despite our efforts and  humanity never fails to intrigue.

A friend has passed me some issues of London Review of Books and I came across an article written by Jenny Diski . The article  is a review on the book “Out of Time” authored  by Lynne Segal. In her article entitled, “However I Smell” , Diski writes, “One of the problems of ageing is knowing when to start complaining about being old.”  Diski relates about how  an woman who worked with elderly people had emailed to tell her that the 85-year-olds she worked with would describe people her age young after having read something of hers in which she described herself, at 66 , as old. 

Diski also writes in the said article,

“ ….the degeneration of the body will alter and limit how you can live, whether you can get out, continue to work and travel. I can’t think of anything about the reality of ageing which improves a person’s life. The wisdom people speak of that is supposed to come to us in old age seems to be in much shorter supply than I imagined, and apart from that , it’s a matter of how self-deceptively, or stoically, you are able or prepared to put up with the depletions, dependency and indignities of getting old.”

So aptly put , indeed. While we must be prepared to  accept some certainties or limitations of life, we tend to avoid thinking about  growing old though mortality is ineluctable. I believe that everything I hear or read is something I have  meant to hear or read. You hear what you want to hear, you see what you want to see  and  you  read what you want to read. When I was thinking about dignified aging, the article “However I Smell”  presented itself. It is published  in Volume 36 Number 9 issue of the London Review of Books. As I grow older, I certainly find that my reserve of  optimism  has diminished in its supply so is the abundance of spontaneity  while cynicism has its way of inviting itself into one’s mind, firmly engrained. In some ways I miss my youth when I could get  excited over things and look at stuff through rose tinted glasses. You win some, you lose some.  Whatever works. 

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