REFLECTING ON THE PAST 60 YEARS
Six decades is a lot of years. Monkeys, dogs, cats, green turtles, birds, snakes that which are maintained as pets cannot live that long. On the other hand however, man is only beginning to feel life once he attained that period. Well, to a certain extent.
It is like reaching the top of a mountain after an arduous climb. It takes time, effort in between audacity and resolve. It is not the height but what one wanted to do on top that matters, like planting of flag, taking pictures, appreciating the heavens, whatever.
In my case, for the first six years, it was my parents who gave me nurturance. As soon as I was introduced to school, my teachers literally took over my waking hours. And it took me 6 years in the elementary 4 years in secondary, 5 years in college, 2 years post graduate, 4 years in law school or an aggregate of 21 years in the Academe. I got employed thereafter and my supervisors virtually took over my consciousness to different layers of responsibilities. I had almost 38 years under their spell. It was an aggregate of 60 years “climbing a mountain.”
As I retired after reaching a decade and a half-a-century mark, I thought I was the genie moving out of the bottle, or lamp if you may. I felt I was newly born. I felt like a different species. Freedom was nauseating. The world had become colorful. My environment became alive. Suddenly, a gush of fresh air filled up my lungs for the first time. I had the realization that for years I was inside an incubator, within a bubble, under detention, with the least liberty of movement and thought, existing in a calibrated situation bounded by rules and sustained by discipline. I got off quite well and a bit shaky, aged to a certain extent but wiser.
During those 60 years, I have loved and was loved in return. I have helped and assisted and was given the same corresponding positive response. There were misunderstanding, conflicts and mistakes but all served as lesson more than painful episodes. In those times, my life was compressed into stressful chapters of meeting one deadline after another. It was a period of reckoning, adjusting and modifying. I have to moderate everything from greed to hunger. I have to be bold and courageous, at times diplomatic and reluctant. I have to compromise and negotiate things I bargained for. It was more on surviving than living. It was more on struggling than breathing normally.
During those 60 years, I tried my best to be a noble son, a good brother, a dutiful worker, a devoted friend, a dedicated lover, a steadfast parent, a worthy neighbor and a resolute student. At times my best was not enough. I have a lot of limitations and shortcomings but it never deterred me from aiming and aspiring for something. I have read an entire library of books and truth to tell, it was in reading that I almost dedicated my entire waking hours almost to the detriment of my social and economic life. All of these were in the name of accomplishing my varied roles in the theater of my universe. I endured to act on each role as if there was no tomorrow, as if the entire story would reach the conclusion, as if the process would culminate in tragedy.
After 60 years, I realized that independent life begins. This may be a bit awkward because one’s prime has long gone. One’s knees are shaky, complexion a little rugged, eyesight getting poor, hearing requires an aide, movement is limited, resistance is meagre, appetite no longer that aggressive, there is little to show in terms of physicality. In other words, the animal in the person has turned backwards. The man has become cautiously senior, almost alien and grossly pragmatic.
Yet he must start anew. Equipped with everything he got exposed with, he must view and trod life in a splendid manner. Notwithstanding reduced vitality and battered body, his mind is glistening with wisdom, brimming with ideas, teeming with thoughts. These should serve his as floodlights to govern the paths he is traversing. His consciousness, like everyone else is for him alone, that which he will take up to the last second. He must preserve it through expressions—forthwith though thoughtfulness, concern, respect, genius and perspicacity. Like footprints in the sand.
One can spend his entire span planting trees, siring offspring, travelling or writing books, whatever. Life is a big choice with infinite choices. It ends when it ends.
There are those who would be active for 5, 10, 20, 30 years or more. Whether they are still willing to spend so much and explore some more depends on their self-imposed mission, or how their health or wealth would carry them through.
These are not sensitive eons ahead. It is more a beginning of a challenging period for most of us in the sunset years.