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Clichéd, but age is just a number!
08 Feb 2017 | Nikhil Khanna
Have you seen the Pixar film Up? If you haven’t then I insist that you watch it as soon as you can. I have seen the film a zillion times, but each time I choke up. The unconventional hero of this 2009 animated classic is Carl Fredricksen, a balloon salesman in his late 70s who lives alone after the death of his wife Ellie. When local authorities try to send him off to a retirement home, Carl realises he has one chance left to fulfill his wife’s dream of moving to Paradise Falls in South America. So he ties hundreds of helium-filled balloons to their home and floats to the place he and Ellie had always dreamed of visiting. Up may be a children’s film, but never has a film so beautifully portrayed a simple truth that age is just a number and it’s never too late to find a new purpose in life. Your priorities may change in different stages of life, but your spirit should not fade with age.

It’s easier said than done. Modern society sometimes ignores the wisdom that comes with many years lived on this earth. After retirement, most senior feel alienated from society and lose their sense of purpose. With their children grown up and busy pursuing careers, no one has the time to make them feel wanted. Many are ill-treated. This leads to depression and other mental illness like depression. The lack of physical activity also causes several age-related ailments.

All this can change if senior people find a sense of purpose and look at this stage in their life as a time of adventure, opportunity and change. American literary critic and Pulitzer Prize winner Leon Edel once aptly said: “The answer to old age is to keep one’s mind busy and to go on with one’s life as if it were interminable. I always admired (Anton) Chekhov for building a new house when he was dying of tuberculosis.” Look around you. There are so many amazing people who improved the quality of their life with creativity and ambition after they turned 60. Grandma Moses became a folk artist and cultural icon at 78, Harry Bernstein became a successful author at 96, Colonel Harland Sanders established the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain at 65, Fauja Singh ran his first marathon at 89, Mary Delany invented paper collage at 72. Closer home, Khushwant Singh published his last book on his 98th birthday and Ram Jethmalani is fighting high-profile cases at 92.

Fortunately, senior living is coming of age in India. With average life expectancy increasing at a remarkable pace - the length of time we can expect to live grows by two-and-a-half years every decade – more and more older people are refusing to be defined by a number. They are looking forward to retirement as a liberating opportunity to pursue their dreams and hobbies, which were put on a back burner due to work and other responsibilities. Quite in contrast to those days when our grandparents were considered old by the time they turned 40.

If you find yourself thinking you are too old to chase your dreams, remember these spirited “oldies”, who didn’t let age stop them. All it takes is a belief and the willingness to take action. It does not matter if the dream is something as simple as growing your dream kitchen garden. What really matters is how good you feel about yourself. Adventure is out there! Go find your Paradise Falls. Age no bar!

About Nikhil Khanna
Nikhil Khanna is the Founder and Managing Director of Avian Media. His public relations experience spans over two decades. He also has deep insights into government policies and community initiatives.
Over the years, Nikhil has gained significant experience in managing media campaigns for political parties and leaders. Nikhil established Avian Media in 2004, which has grown from an initial staffing of four people to over 160 now spread across New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Besides focusing on growth of Avian Media, he along with his business partner set up Chase India, an Avian associate company, in 2010 to work on public affairs mandate for leading Indian and multinational companies.
A voracious reader, Nikhil continues to contribute to various publications like The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Telegraph, Outlook, Verve and Architectural Digest.
An itinerant traveller with passion for literature, Nikhil lives with his family in New Delhi.
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