“So the choice you have,” opined my just-turned-sixty friend in her dramatic style “is whether to allow yourself to become a mental fossil or remain a perennial evergreen.” It was her explanation for why she had chosen to join a one year course in French at a local languages school. Through the evening’s friendly-frivolous-banter and some esoteric talk, a few home truths emerged. Age is no longer a number on the timeline of your life that comes with its set rules and regulations. If you give in to the stereotype of what is ‘age-appropriate’ you will soon become world weary and wilt away. To retain the freshness of life and be ‘evergreen’ needs some effort.
First and foremost you need to take care of your health…that simple homily “health is wealth” takes on a whole new significance as the years roll by. From making healthy lifestyle choices, menus for eating right, tips on how to indulge with discretion once in a while, to miracle-diets…the Internet is full of sites to guide you on this path. So perhaps it’s good to make use of your better judgement to pick and choose what best suits you. More important is to take up some physical activity to keep the body mechanism running. It’s been said that preparing for and running a marathon at least once in a lifetime, is a good wish to add to your bucket list!!
Next you need to engage socially and find ways and means of meeting people. A host of options exist…join an NGO for some social work, be a part of all neighbourhood functions even monthly kitty parties, meet up with old friends, travel and join tour groups…the important thing being to overcome the inertia and just meet up.
The biggest challenge is to keep exercising those grey cells to prevent mental atrophy. It was in this context that my friend was talking about learning a new language. The more you think about it the more sense it makes…when ennui sets in and you feel you’ve done it all and there’s nothing left to learn or do is when you begin to grow ‘old’. There is always something new to learn or do…the dance lessons you never took, the water-colours you thought of painting, the yoga or meditation course you wanted to join or even the book you dreamt of writing. And these days there is the added digital-technology-challenge: levels to conquer of the new game on your iPad; a new app to download and figure out what to do with it; another social-media platform to take you beyond Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter; a new Windows upgrade that teaches you to learn some and unlearn others; and the trials and tribulations of understanding and operating a new gadget. Swamped with all this who has the time to be an “old fossil”??!!