We face a graying population worldwide, and it is a global situation that cannot be swept aside. And yet, are we giving our attention to our elders?
I turn 50 in a few days. I face this with peace, joy and a certain pride, knowing that it is a nice marker in what I hope will be a continuing journey of life. I have kept pace with time and followed through many of the goals I set for myself, and completed them. And with every marker, aging and old age rises more and more to the surface of my thoughts.
I have always been partial to causes that relate to aging and the disabled, because I get the sense that these causes can do with more care and more attention, compared to the causes that get what I humbly perceive to get attention, such as sports and the young. The aged and the disabled deserve every bit as much attention as any other worthy cause.
And yet, while some may imagine the aged to be unimportant, I know the aged hold many of the keys to great treasure. My own dad is one such treasure. He may not be a verbal cannon that broadcasts all too loudly, and yet, when I sit down quietly with him sometimes, I learn a great deal from him, and admire his continuous learning and his relentless quest for knowledge. He may walk a lot more slowly than just a decade or two ago, but his wealth of knowledge is worthy to be shared anytime.
I just watched a Taiwanese film, “Go Grandriders” (不老騎士-歐兜邁環台日記), which followed a group of people in their seventies and eighties, who followed their dream and toured Taiwan over 13 days on scooters and bikes. They are average people from various backgrounds, and quite a few have health problems. The elders traveled around the Taiwan landscape, and brought joy and inspiration to nursing homes, young children, and many other people. The trip was a roller-coaster ride with danger, and yet, the film showed us an inspiring journey that brought me to tears.
At the end of the film, the special features on the disc also showed us the dedicated young volunteers and filmmaking crew, with humble equipment, but big hearts and humility, making this film a reality over a span of five years of planning. The film showed us what the human spirit can achieve, at any age, in any condition. In my humble opinion, this humbly produced documentary trumps big budget fiction productions anytime, because I was absorbed in the real life story, and was inspired by the nobility and simplicity of these elders.
These elders, like my dad, show me at least, that aging is no impediment to making dreams a reality. We will never stop time, but we can keep pace with time and not waste the fleeting time we are all given fairly. Aging? Who cares, if we commit to our goals and get things done as we intend. If we want to learn to paint, start today. If we want to write a book, start writing the first page today. If we want to learn how to repair something, start learning today. Everything starts with the smallest step forward.
PS – The official website for the “Go Grandriders” film is at www.gograndriders.com. The official trailer can be seen at: