Friday, February 25, 2011

O for Old..

Old is often used as an excuse... for many if not everything. There are things in life which we cannot defy... growing old is one. But too often we use it as the excuse for whatever that suits us...

Everyone knows what osteoporosis can do to us. My mom has that and as a result it caused havoc with her backbone. Some of her lumbars have collapsed, literally crushed. We put her on meds and it slowed down the bone deterioration somewhat but the damage was done. Breathing is affected as the space got more cramped inside. Moving about is very uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. That was many years ago... but Mom has the discipline and determination which I never knew. She diligently exercised, stretched, built her stamina... she might have been wheelchair bound but thankfully still can move around. The breathing is still difficult though... she gets tired quite easily after a walk. But the exercise regime she puts herself through would shame most of us... while she realizes and sometimes laments in bewilderment that growing old is a painful process, she has not used it as a reason to stop trying.... and I appreciate her very much for that.

Over the years, I am often asked to teach friends computer stuff... quite a number fall into the old group. What I notice is a large number often use being old as an excuse not to be able to learn. But again and again, I also notice that if there is an impetus for learning, for example like to keep in touch with their kids or use it for something they are totally into, learning takes on a path of less resistance. They push themselves to plod on task by task till they learn to use whatever function they require. I took tennis lessons more than a year ago and among those in my group was an elderly man of 70. I thought people at that age wouldn't be picking up games like tennis... I learned something from this affable man.

However, this using of 'old' as an excuse is not only confined to the old people. Young people also display such tendencies. In all my years teaching, my students tell me that learning English is too difficult.... most of them have a very poor command of English. And because they convince themselves that, many continue to have a poor command. Of course there are other factors at play as well.

But very often we make excuse for ourselves or others using 'old'. We are often reminded to let someone off the hook because she is old... you know-lah, old people are set in their ways. Aiyah! Nevermind-lah. But I find this rather inexcusable. Being old and set in your ways doesn't give you the right to be vindictive, racist, mean and arrogant, which happens a lot at work places. Many take 'being old' as a license to be excused for things... if I were an employer, I might as well hire 2 or 3 young people to do the job of one 'old' people. But for saying this, I guess I would probably be deem not to have compassion.

A few years ago, I worked under a boss whom I greatly respect. I wish there are more like her. But in the teaching fraternity, she's one of the rare gems. She took an 'early' retirement. Instead of going for 58 (like what most are doing) she retired at 56. She wanted more time with her family. She felt that she wasn't able to give her level best commitment to her job. So she retired.... she could have stayed on, continue to draw a salary and cut down on her work. She could easily get away with that. And there's always the 'old' excuse to fall back on. They are few people like her. The 'old' group of people stay on... and they expect 'special' treatment. I think it's a bad move to retain such people....

Anyway, 'old'... all of us grow old and die.... if anything is to go by, being old should remind us that there is an end coming... or a another beginning if you believe in the world after... but how you live your life.... that'll be the reckoning. Tis a reminder for myself too....

2 comments:

Dino said...

The only time "i am old" can be use as an excuse is when one go hiking and end up sore the next day and the day after and the day after. The next thing you know, you are sore the whole week and you go hiking again and you get sore all over again....its a vicious cycle i tell you!!!

Sorry to hear about your mom's condition, my last impression of her was she was cleaning house while we kids were taught math by your dad. Time flies and our parents aged.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

It is really good to see an old person/senior living independently - in fact they age slower for activity keeps the body and mind going. I hope to be in this category:)