Immortal sheen in old treasures


Growing old in a society that idolizes youth and is crazy about aging cover-ups can make one feel depressed. Why not? Old age comes with some losses: loss of employment; loss of physical strength and health; loss of loved ones and friends; and inevitably, the loss of that feeling – call that illusion, if you may – of invincibility. Ha, ha, it’s a good thing I drink four cups of coffee every day. According to a study by Michel Lucas, Ph.D. (from the Harvard School of Public Health) and colleagues, among women consuming four cups or more per day the relative risk of depression is 20 percent less. But there’s a rider to the study. It says it “cannot prove that caffeine or caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of depression but only suggests the possibility of such a protective effect.”

I think only young people look forward to getting older.  Children talk, act and cry like adults. Adolescents put on heavy makeup and wear high heels in an attempt to look like grown-ups. The rest of us, meaning, those who have reached the age of “full maturation,” wish we could stop time. But we have no power over the aging process as it sneaks into our body system and finally overwhelms us. We can spend a fortune on hair implants and Belo essentials, but these products can neither change the number of years we have stayed here on earth nor alter our birth records. In other words, we have no power to stop the clock.

What we do have, though, is the power to choose how we respond to our own aging. And we can choose either of two ways – one, by being fearful of, frustrated with, resentful toward and angry at the inexorable rising of our age; or, by just reaping all the benefits of aging with dignity – that is to continue to live and learn, to give and teach, and to help and bless this world. Old age bestows a vast array of blessings: the freedom of life without work, the joys of having or being with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the privilege of being the “elder” in the family, a perspective on life that can only be gained through the years, the awareness of human frailty, the link to the past, the wisdom that comes with age.

I once joined a senior citizens’ association in the hope that I could find fellowship and share bits of wisdom with like-minded folks. But to my dismay, there was too much politicking and intrigues going on out there between and among the group leaders. It’s a serious problem when the leaders you look up to are quarreling among themselves. As Michael Douglas stated in the movie, “The American President,” “We have serious problems and we need serious people to solve those problems.”

I was taught by missionary sisters from the United States to cultivate personal excellence and ambition, but not to be bothered by small-minded rivalries. Work that seeks to serve others depends a great deal on the quality of the leadership.

When I was a young mom, I recall I always told my then teenage daughters to be courteous and pay attention to their lola every time she talked. Whenever they came to me to complain about their lola being too strict, I would say: “Take the time to get to know your lola and all senior citizens, for that matter. It’s well worth it, for whether it’s about biblical wisdom, marriage and family, ways to ‘stretch a peso,’ or pretty much anything else, grandparents and other older people can offer great insights.”

After coming to terms with the death of my mother, I realized that life is short. We bring nothing to this world and will take nothing from it when we leave. The key and fundamental question we should ask ourselves is: What do I leave behind to the world and the people? My answer: words of wisdom. Therefore I teach and I write. Indeed, we are creating the future right now, with everything we do and say.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about relationships between older people and younger people. You see, a women’s group I’m involved in planned a night of hymn singing and testimonies that took place Friday night.

When we got together, I was pleasantly surprised to see people of all ages. There were children, college students, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents all singing together. It was wonderful. Testimonies were given, words from some of the older hymns were explained, and what a great time we all had!

As I left, I reflected on what a treasure trove of wisdom our senior citizens are.

When I was in college, I had to write a term paper on the economy of the times when people, especially the urban poor, were lining up for rice, sugar and cooking oil rationed and sold from government trucks at low prices. I interviewed grandparents and old folks in the neighborhood, and those interviews made a lasting impression on me. I learned that they had happy memories of their childhood days, despite not their having any money, and that impacted a lot on how I live my life today.

I miss my grandparents greatly. To young people, here’s a bit of advice: Take advantage of the time you have with older friends and relatives. Listen to their wisdom. Too often it’s easy for the youth to rebel and insist on doing things their own way. It’s a natural part of life to assert independence. But be flexible enough to learn from those who have lived life before you. They know a thing or two.

So today as you go about your day, as you go to church, be sure to express your appreciation of  those who have walked through life before you. Sit down, take some time to talk with them. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much they understand life and how much wisdom you can glean from them.

(L. T. Guilas, 63, used to work as a publications assistant at the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Western Pacific. She is now doing some freelance writing on the side – as the feel and the need arise.)

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  • Anonymous

    Growing old sucks !

    Turning older this year, how do I intend to live my life out, and what do I wish to accomplish in the remaining years? For one thing, I know I won’t be famous, for fame takes talent and achievement; and I have neither. For another, owning a big house in Forbes Park, or Ayala Alabang is out of the question, for I do not have the knack to make money, and money only mildly pleases me. Though I certainly would want to shape the course of events, I am not smart nor have the gumption to play rough and tumble politics. So is life all for naught? When I was young I thought I had all the answers. Now that I am older and presumed wiser, I hardly have a clue what life is all about. I thought it used to be good food, sex, money, and power. Now, I think, a good sleep is all I need.

  • Anonymous

    Listen to them only if the oldies live a righteous and prosperous life. And they have great philosophies to share. 

    The best advice for the young people is to read books, great books. This is where they can gather wisdom. 

  • Anonymous

    To the old people(of w/c I am one): Live the rest of your life as passionate as when you were young. Don’t       try to control the younger generation.
    To the young people: Listen to your inner voice, your own passions. Don’t mind dogmatic oldies…Lady Gaga did say    ” I was born this way”.

  • Anonymous

    i may not be smart inherently but i am constantly improving my intellect and therefore adding to the wisdom i have accumulated through blogging.  it has contributed immensely to my understanding of how the world is seen by others. retirement is a period  when one can do what pleases the person provided that it is not to the detriment of others. this is also the time that the respect one has earned are given without question and doubt.  with the two loves of my life and God at my side, i could ask for nothing more.

  • Anonymous

    One is truly old only upon realization that the past form of the genders denotes a logical, if subtle sense of the past tense. Thus, one may be referred to as “masculined” or “feminined” in the sense of being neutered. The last term is by itself a legitimate adjective; as the past tense of the neuter gender, it may now signify neither being masculine nor feminine in the sense of being past the capacity to naturally function as one or the other.

  • Anonymous

    When the music becomes too loud,you become too old.. as we grow older,we ought to be wiser…sabi ng pinoy, kalabaw lang ang tumatanda…sabi nila sa akin,manoy gurang ka na!! sagot ko naman, the older the grapes, the sweeter the wine…

  • Guevarra

      I hope that the young ones would be able to read this.  Yes, when we are young we have this notion of invincibility that can slowly be eroded by age and time.  Time, age and our personal experiences are immense sources to learn and gain wisdom from.  I have always been respectful of older people but when my mother died, the more I felt respect, compassion and love to every Lola’s and Lolos I met.  To the youth, respect the old people.  Your parents are going to grow old someday and they would be gone long before you realize the many sacrifices they have done or even the words of wisdom they have and tried to impart to you.  

    To the author, thank you for this article.  I miss my mother’s words of wisdom but reading an article such as yours brings warm memories about her.

  • Guevarra

    The saying “listen to your mother” is almost always true to some extent.   

  • Robert

    To the writer, missed the days I have worked with some of your freelance jobs before. Gained so much in terms of professionalism.  My regards… hoping we can work again in the future.

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