There's an idea going around that growing old in India is great. Apparently, grey hair and wrinkles are revered over here. Well, dream on. It may be that getting old in a culture where the traditional respect for the elderly is still alive is wonderful, but from what I've seen, India is not that much different from anywhere else and as it is in the rest of the world, if you want to be part of the world you should keep your youth and beauty. Even if you live in India. Sad, but true.
Ageing is something that happens to everyone, but the truth is that lots of different factor accelerate the ageing process. Diet, pollution, exposure the the sun - I could go on and on. I once met a woman once who was over forty, but looked twenty five. She was a scientist colleague of my husband from a place called Gujarat. She was quite happily unmarried and seemed to observe a lot of daily devotions, reading from the Bhagavad Gita and reciting jap (rosary) in her spare time. But she had this beauty that didn't come from applying expensive cosmetic or youth elixirs. She had an inner glow and a vibrancy that seemed to challenge age. She also had a youthful outlook.
The biggest factor in ageing seems to be attitude. A certain elderly lady who is very closely related to me is falling to pieces because she lies on the bed all day and cries out to God to take her from this life. Sooner or later her prayers shall be answered. Meanwhile, she continues to live in misery.
Fourteen years ago, my mother was on the way out. She wasn't yet sixty and she got cancer. She didn't want to die so early in life so she set out to find a cure. She took to religion in a big way and read a lot of books on the topic of scripture and illness and disease. In my younger days, as a Catholic, we were often taught by teachers and priests that suffering and illness, bravely borne, was a way to sainthood and that if it was God's will that you should have cancer, then there was nothing you could do about it. Imagine my mother's surprise when she discovered that God's will for His people was no such thing. He wants His people well and healthy. My mother found a line in the book of Isaiah, chapter 53: 4-5, KJV
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
My mother was healed of cancer and attributes her healing to her belief in these verses.
Another favourite Bible verse is Ps. 105:5 (KJV)
"Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's."
That's a fabulous verse which works for lots of people I know.
In fact, a friend gave my mother her prayer book to read lately, a friend who could be described as a traditional Catholic. One of the prayers was supposed to be written from the elderly addressed to God and it had a line that went something like: "oh, Lord, I'm old and my eyes are dim and I can't walk well...." What utter rubbish. It's as if they're pre-programming people to think of themselves as decrepit.
I sure as heck don't want to programme myself to become old before my time. So you'll never hear me saying 'when I was young.' If I wish to describe an incident which happened at an earlier stage in my life, I'll probably say "when I was younger." And that's the closest I'll get to "when I was young.
Photo courtesy of All-Free Download
Photo courtesy of All-Free Download