Recently, I have been on a spate of watching shows or books about the 60+ in our world. The show I watched was – Green Glove Gang, a polish show on Netflix. It’s about three 60+ ladies who are sort of Robin hood and also excellent heist thieves. Well, for one, they are super tech-savvy and have no hesitation in using technology for their nefarious schemes. I did like that depiction of tech-savvy elderly folks. As our lifespan increases and we move into the Artificial Intelligence world – being able to navigate with technology is going to be a much-needed life skill. It was a remarkable series where most of the cast was 60+, and they did lots of cool stuff.
And then I have also been reading Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series about a bunch of septuagenarians doing cool stuff like solving murders and catching criminals. And it is even based in an old age care home. Not to say they don’t have issues – like making sure everybody goes to the loo before a long car ride. But it doesn’t seem to stop them from living their life. They do more than live their life. There is a sentence in the book which goes like this: In the mornings, the rest of the world is getting ready with coffee or work because there are only so many moments in a day. And here in the nursing home – everybody gets their day started because there are only so many days left. And an additional plus for Richard’s book is that it is set in London, so you get a lovely dollop of British humour.
It is not all hunky dory either – in both cases, the characters talk about loneliness and how the rest of the world does not care for them. Like one of the ladies in the show says – do you think the police will ever suspect that three crones like us are serial robbers? And that is in some ways true – I am not saying that we all turn into hooligans when we reach that age, but nobody expects anything from older people. And what is worse, in some cases, they themselves do not expect anything from them – they have resigned themselves to old age. And that self-defeatism, along with society’s expectations, is maybe causing that generation to not live their life fully – in whatever form it may be.
Why is that? Why do people resign themselves to their fate when they grow old? Is it because they have lived out everything that society expected them to, and now there are no more societal expectations? They have raised a family, had a job and are now supposed to sit back and enjoy.
In India, we have these four phases of life:
- Sisya (student) or brahmacarya (bachelor).
- Grihastha (family).
- Vanaprastha (forest hermit).
- Samnyasa (give up worldly pleasures).
The core idea here is we are beings who take the human form to enjoy the world of illusion (material and worldly things). And the idea is to exhaust ourselves in the first three so that when the fourth stage comes, we are ready to be witness, observe and enjoy the bliss of being of one. But, for most of us, the world holds such sway over us that we never run out of desires. So, most of us go through our entire life without understanding what it means to be the audience to our own beautiful lives. If we did that, the question – ‘What’s the point of it all?’ would be irrelevant. And given that we will soon live in a world where most of the population is in that category, awareness is needed so that we can modify our mindsets and expectations.
What stage of life are you in? And will you ever be ready to be the witness of your own life?