“…Because if you have found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward.”
These were the wise words of a 78-year-old sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, at Brandeis University, who was dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This is one thing that has changed the lives of many and I am sure shall continue to do so. Personally, this has been my mantra for life, and it is this thing that has always forced me to take an extra effort to make everyday more beautiful and my life more meaningful.
In life, we go through millions of things,situations, problems and types of people. There will be good times and bad times. Nothing is constant. Times will come and go and so will people and situations. It is easy to enjoy the sweet times and live a happily ever after life. But this is not what life is about. Life is about challenges and changes. And, the most important thing during all these times is the attitude with which you face these challenges and embrace such changes. The way we deal with the tough situations and act during difficult times is majorly and more often than not dependent on the way we see them and perceive them. It is natural for everyone to lose confidence in themselves and their plans during a rough patch. All of us tend to submit ourselves to the negativity and become the pessimists that do not see anything good in the circumstances.
Let me take this little example, to explain my point and to put across my thoughts accurately. Living the life of an outstation student is challenging. I have been doing it since 15 months now. All of my college friends are localities. And rest, i.e. my school friends and my fellow mates whom I live with, they too are in the same boat as mine. And as the trend has been, I haven’t really seen any of my mates being happy and glad about where they are today. I haven’t really seen anyone so enthusiastic to make their present more fun and interesting as I have seen people brooding over the conditions they live in, and how bad they want to go back home. I am not saying I don’t feel home sick. I too do. And it’s natural. But the thing that makes me sad is, people who have made the efforts to leave home and comforts and moved out to make their life, they are STILL always stuck in their past,still stuck in how their life was when they were home, still stuck why home was better and oh god, the list goes on. I am so disappointed that no one really is trying to make the most of their present. This shows me two things: one, those who are stuck in their past, they are stuck so because they have not really found meaning in their present. They do not really enjoy what they are doing. And two, the reason behind the first is, because they have never really put in the efforts to do so. Being stuck in what’s already gone is never going to fetch you anything.
Now let me speak on some parallel grounds for a better understanding. Aging has seen to be one of the most difficult challenges everyone faces these days. I have hardly ever come across any people who would take pride and happiness in saying that they are aging- and aging well.Youngsters want to go back to school; adults want to be kids again; There is hardly anyone who wants to go forward in life; hardly anyone who wants to grow older and learn more and more lessons; there is hardly anyone who wants to make mistakes and then be perfect and not just be born perfect! This ‘hardly’ group of people are difficult to find and this is because today no one is happy and content with what they have in life. They don’t possess the art of appreciating what they have. They know how to value a thing once it’s gone- be it a tangible possession or a phase of life. There is hardly anyone who’d look forward to new things, to change.
The professor I quoted right at the beginning,he was man dying of ALS. And once, he was asked, “ Don’t you envy the young?”His answer to this, left me mesmerized. And those are the lines that are embedded in my mind and my heart forever now. He said, “Why should I be jealous?I have had everything I had to. I have lived the life of an 8 year old, a 15 year old, and a 37 year old and now I am proud to say I am living the life of a 70 year old. I have more experience than anyone here and there is nothing to be jealous about.” This is where he added, “Because if you have found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward.”
When a 70-something year old, dying man can live his life gracefully, and enjoy they present, why can’t the young and fit ones? Why is everyone so worked up that we are unable to appreciate the present and make the best of it? Why do we just end up thinking and crying over the past memories and past days.
What I want to convey by this little piece of writing is: don’t be the person who does not give his 100% in the present and continually lives in the past. Be the person who makes use of every opportunity he has; the one who tries everything that he every wanted; the one who does not regret any phase of their life; the one who has lived EVERY day to an extent that they look forward to the next new day with optimism and excitement.Be someone who extracts the best and the worst from each day; the one that makes mistakes and learns from them. Be someone who spreads positivity about this beautiful concept and aspect of life, ‘aging.’ Be someone who is an idol to every little kid, growing adult and grown up oldie.
So come on, join me in embracing change in general and aging in particular. Lets age gracefully and be proud of it! 🙂