Ode to Youth

One God Note #587. 2013/08/11.

"Nature has done well and wisely, in not permitting a man to live forever and in bringing into the world ever new generations. An old person is a used-up machine [... He] has too many dogmas to [...] easily [...] believe in a new truth [...]; too many sympathies and antipathies [...] for him to come to love something unfamiliar; [...] too many habits to be able to settle on new ways. Let us add suspiciousness — the fruit of bitter experiences; a pessimism inseparable from all manner of disappointments; and finally, a general decline of powers from exhaustion [...]."
Bolesław Prus, "Oda do młodości" ("Ode to Youth"), 1905. Quoted after: Wikiquote.

More on Boleslaw Prus can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boles%C5%82aw_Prus
More on International Youth Day can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Youth_Day

August 12 - International Youth Day (UN).
August 8-17 - Fravardeghan Days, also known as Muktad (memorializing ancestors), are ten days of preparation for Nowruz (New Year), observed by Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar.
Source: 2013 Multifaith Calendar, www.multifaithcalendar.org

This Note, to my surprise, created a couple of reactions. Netta Phillet wrote: "Hi, do  you believe this?" And then she added: "(...) yesterday was my 64th birthday and I feel my wisdom increasing daily :)" In a similar tone Marion Rosborough responded:  
This guy certainly hasn’t met the “old people” I hang out with in 2013.
We don’t want to live forever but  by avoiding these attitudes we sure make great contributions to the world in our final years.
At eighty, I love my very active life of travel to nine countries since January. My next destination is Peru. I treasure my encounters with the indigenous peoples and those of various religions.
This note makes me so grateful to be me.
Thanks for your dedication to this project,
Marion Rosborough
These voices put me a bit on defensive. While I could not resist to use a fine quote from famous Polish writer, Bolesław Prus, which seemed to come handy in the context of International Youth Day, it was not my intention to go so far as to say that older people are somehow less valuable than young people. We, older people, seem to be absolutely necessary to KEEP THE BALANCE for younger generations, to keep the balance of the Universe. While it is wonderful to be young and full of youthful enthusiasm, it is also true that as young people we tend to create problems for ourselves. This is likely a result of our youthful ignorance and impulsiveness, precisely the qualities that make us to look so lively. If it was not for older people around me, I am sure I would have created even more havoc in my life.
I am especially grateful to my grandparents whose love was like a rock for me through the turbulent years of my childhood and youth. When my parents fought with each other, I used to run to my grandpa, Bronek, with whom I have always felt safe and loved. I also remember one episode, during my university years, when after a night of drinking and really not smart behavior, I felt especially bad about myself. Instinctively, rather than going home, I picked up a train in the opposite direction ... to my grand-parents. I could not have invented of a better remedy for my aching soul - my grand-parents, although surprised, welcomed me with open arms and great joy. For them I represented a great value - something much more deeper, much more substantial, much more important than the excesses of the previous night. One could say that in the warmth of their love, I melted down to being myself again. I recovered.
Older people, one could argue, tend to see things in proper perspective. While young, we often get caught in the drama of our lives. In our insecurity, we take things personally. We seem to be convinced that it is only us who suffer so much, love so much, struggle so much. We are like actors who forgot that they are in the play. When older, we seem to realize that everyone has to go through certain experiences in life, that it is fantastic to simply be alive and that everything eventually comes to pass.
So, Netta, Marion, no hard feelings, please. I know that many people age much more gracefully than what Bolesław Prus observed. People live longer and many, especially those who live so called "healthy life styles," preserve wonderfully agile minds, sense of humor, physical and social activity, as well as capacity to contribute. Let us together write a new Ode to ... Well Aged?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Piotr, I am so happy to read this blog, your comments on the different ways we see life as we age, e.g. when young "We are like actors who forgot that they are in the play" are RIGHT ON, so astute. I loved reading Marion's response, had no idea she is 80, cannot believe it. Please feel free to do anything with my reply; at home and at work I can barely keep up with necessary emails, so blogs, Facebook, etc. are not going to happen, every minute sitting in front of this computer beyond the unavoidable minimum is one too many for me, love Netta