Saturday, October 28, 2006

In the end...jump

There's a programme on National geographic channel that chronicles the life-cycle of an African Lion. The growing years, the ferocious hunting in the wilderness, leading a clan of half a dozen lioness, killing young males who could become potential contenders....and in the final scene, the once invincible but now old lion wobbles around for a few steps and then falls down with a thud. That's the end of the king of the jungle.

This scene has remained in memory for quite a long time. The fraility that comes with age, the helplessness and weakness that are a natural part of growing old--somehow these are very touching. I see it in elders around--those who were once ferocious lions are now looking around--not knowing what to do with their lives except waiting for the end. This disturbs.

Once I saw an elderly man who was suffering from parkinsons disease. He'd enrolled for our meditation classes but he couldn't sit even for a moment without shaking and twisting. His nervous system was completely devastated. I'd wonder how his day-to-day life would be.

Nat writes a good post on growing old and our perceptions regarding it. And in Tehelka as usual, a touching article about a father who's afflicted with parkinsons.

Then there's an sms from a childhood friend--'Sad news. ML passed away!'

ML was our physical trainer in our highschool days. As with all P.T. masters he was a real terror. He'd smash anyone and everyone who'd dare to cross the line of discipline. We as kids never, ever imagined that this bully would one day become an non-descript, unwanted, helpless person and pass away meekly. He was always overbearing -- an apt symbol of the african lion. But in the end there's always that wobble.... and then a soft thud. It comes to everyone, whoever you could be.

Yet there are some who defy age, who defy nature. Shivaram karanth, an eminent figure in the Kannada literary world, lived up to 96 years and he was a young boy until his last breath--full of life, full of zest. The principle--'Mind over matter' was true in his case, as it is with many like him. The body could be slow and unhurried but the spirit inside is roaring and blazing ahead. Their enthusiasm and happiness are infectious. No wobble, no thud can erase the smile on their faces. They live in joy and when they depart, I'm sure they do so with a spring in their steps.

I'd love to be one such old man, if at all I live up to such a ripe age.


  1. I do think it is all about the mind and mind power.You think young you feel young.

  2. Death is still an eventuality that i have not considered. but then, thats the way it is. What goes around comes around. nice read.

    I shudder when i see my grand parents, unable to move, unable to do anything without a support. i guess thats when a lot of myths about myself came crashing down with a thud.

  3. Edu...agreed. But there's the opposite too--you think old and you feel old. I was in this whirlpool once--totally tired and lazy in mind and the same outside.

    How much of our time do we devote to harness this fantastic power within us?

    Appu..I always thought I'd consider death after my retirement, after settling all worldly accounts. But who knows when death knocks? A friend of mine, barely a year older met with a accident and passed away last year. That was a terrible shock.

    There's a saying--'who's your most intimate friend?'---'It's death, who follows you every moment like a shadow'. This is not to demonise death and get scared but to accept the inevitability of death and understand life better in the light of death.

  4. I am unsure what a ripe old age means anymore. At 60 part of me feels like I'm 18 aand another part feels like I'm 81!

    But hey! Having a computer again feels great!

  5. Hey Nick...Nice to see you back. Where had you been all along? Hope everything's fine with you, your kitchen and your computer. Please take care.
    Ripe old age is for the body--and if one is too much identified with the body--it refers to the person inhabiting the body too.