The Unavoidable One I Am Frightened


By Min Zan


Ageing is an inevitable part of life, but as much as it’s a natural process, I don’t want to be old. The thought of growing old and experiencing the associated physical and mental decline is frightening to me. The article I am now writing will discuss the issue associated with the one which is unavoidable for everyone.
The physical changes that come with ageing are not something I look forward to. As people age, their bodies become more susceptible to illness, disease, and injury. The likelihood of developing chronic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and heart disease increases with age. Ageing also brings physical changes such as wrinkles, age spots, and hair loss, which can be challenging to accept. These changes can impact an individual’s quality of life, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks, maintain independence, and participate in enjoyable activities.
The mental changes associated with ageing are equally concerning. As people age, they may experience memory loss, cognitive decline, and mood changes. These changes can affect an individual’s ability to live independently, maintain social connections, and engage in activities they once enjoyed. Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of cognitive decline can be debilitating and frightening for individuals and their loved ones.
Moreover, growing old can be isolating. As people age, their social circles often shrink, and they may become more reliant on family members for support. Losing friends and family members to illness or death can be emotionally challenging, and forming new friendships may become increasingly difficult. Isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns, which can further impact an individual’s quality of life.
In addition, the societal view of ageing can be negative, which can be demotivating for older adults. Ageing is often associated with declining physical and mental abilities, and older adults are sometimes viewed as burdens on society. Ageism, or discrimination based on age, can be pervasive and can impact an individual’s self-esteem and sense of worth.
As we go through life, we inevitably age. Although it may be difficult to imagine ourselves in the future, the reality is that one day we will become old. When that time comes, our lives will change in ways that we cannot anticipate. Here, we would like to explore some of the things that we might experience when we become old.
One of the most significant changes we will face is our physical capabilities. As we age, we may begin to experience physical limitations that can make everyday tasks challenging. For example, we might find it difficult to walk for long periods, climb stairs, or lift heavy objects. In addition to physical limitations, we may also experience health issues such as chronic pain, hearing loss, or vision problems. It is essential to take care of our bodies throughout our lives to help minimize these potential challenges as we age.
Everyone in the world wants to live long. They are not still contented with their long lives. They want to live healthily as long as their lives. Therefore, there might be such words as long life and good health; in blessings speech repeatedly.
Here, I would like to present my own experience. Ordinary human beings are much more satisfied when they hear the blessings to live long and healthy. However, I have noted that Arahants bitterly hate to live long. It is difficult to bear when a tiny piece of thing enters one’s eye. In the same way, it is said Arahants are difficult to bear like entering a tiny piece of thing in their eyes in serving the burden of their bodies for the rest of their lifespan of present lives as they attain the fourth and final stage in the following the Eightfold Path of Nibbana and there is no new existence for them.
For ordinary human beings, wishing to live long and healthy, has got an intention. That is to eat what they like; to go where they want and to do what they wish. No one can deny it. If one contemplates such a voice of answer from the atmosphere of Ultimate Truth, it is the voice that favours lust. After lust, there comes attachment and then the Karma process, and then the rebirth of Apaya. Therefore, the wish of ordinary human beings to live long and healthily is to go to Apaya. It can be logically assumed.
I have met a person to whom I have to pay respect like my own brother. He is about 20 years older than me. Though we are of many different ages, we are very friendly with each other as our intimacy has been for ages. I name him ‘Ah Ko Ohn’. His family consists of two people – himself and his spouse only — but no children. Ah Ko Ohn is over 80 years and his spouse is about the same age. Both of them are not strong ones. Ah Ko Ohn cannot go out of the house. He has to take great care of walking one step after another even inside his house.
As they have no children, they have to face many difficulties in cooking, housework, and health affair. Their financial status does not need to be worried. With their saved money, they can make a lot of interest. Therefore, they cannot only spend money more but also donate what they wish.
I often go to their house and hear the opinion on the aged life by Ah Ko Ohn. Ah Ko Ohn has fallen three times inside the house and so is taking great care of walking later. In eating food, as there are not full numbers of teeth in the mouth like a young boy, he has to choose food that can be chewed well. As he has chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, he has to choose food again. Though he is a bookworm and knowledge collector, he cannot read books very well as his eyes get blurred welling up with hot tears. In some individual health activities such as urinating, egesting faeces, having baths, etc., Ah Ko Ohn often tells me that he encounters daily exhaustion and unpleasing when he carries and moves his clumsy body from place to place.
Ah Ko Ohn has got a fixed phone. Though it is very useful for the old couple in emergency cases concerning health, Ah Ko Ohn says that he becomes disappointed at it. As the time youths of today are using in a hurry with hunger, it is not strange that Ah Ko Ohn has disappointing reasons as one has many difficulties if he cannot skillfully use a modern electronic device.
Though the phone is placed near the place where Ah Ko Ohn usually sits, the plug to recharge the phone battery is in another place. Therefore, when the phone rings while being charged, Ah Ko Ohn has to go to where the phone is being recharged. But before he gets there, he finds the ring hangs up and it is disappointing. When he wants to make a phone call to someone, he gets angry and dizzy as he does not remember the wanted number by heart and knows the place where the paper with noted numbers is kept. Though he finds that paper with noted numbers, his shaky fingers cannot press the correct keys and cannot reach the destination in a short while. A phone is created to be convenient for easy communication with humans but for Ah Ko Ohn, it is an exhausting one.
One day, Ah Ko Ohn told me with patience that the remaining time for him to live was short and he was not in the attainment of distinction. He also told me it was impossible for him to practice religious meditation with his present health. He could do reciting Paritta, send goodwill, share merit, and practice in and out breathing in order that he could sleep well only. It was impossible for him to read books of sermons long as his eyes did not accept it. However, his ears were still good and he regularly listened to the sermons whenever the lights were on, he said.
As that I have heard the words — education is the first phase of one’s life, the economy is the second phase and Dhamma is the third phase — they must be reviewed again. If one’s life is long in his third phase of life but his health is not good and he cannot practice effectively, it will be a thing to be considered how it is for a Buddhist, Seeing Ah Ko Ohn as an aged person who is very disappointed on long life, I feel sad and those are the things I am thinking. Though one can assume if one is convenient in financial condition, the remaining affairs will be also convenient, for those couples, it is not complete enough as they serve the heavy burden of their bodies. So, I sometimes think, about whether long life is good or not. And a suspect which one can find a chance to the attainment of distinction that is a fundamental stage of Magga important for a Buddhist or not during such a life-long period dawns upon my mind.
In addition, our social circles and support networks may shift as we age. Many of us have close friends and family members that we rely on for emotional support, but as we grow older, we may find ourselves losing touch with some of these individuals. We may also experience a sense of loneliness or isolation if we do not have strong social connections. To combat this, it is important to stay socially engaged, participate in activities we enjoy, and make new friends.
Furthermore, our mental and cognitive abilities may also change as we age. We may find it more challenging to remember things or process information quickly. This does not necessarily mean that we will develop dementia or other cognitive impairments, but it does mean that we may need to make adjustments to our daily routines to accommodate these changes. For example, we may need to write down important information or use memory aids to help us remember things.
Besides, we may experience a sense of loss or grief as we age. We may lose close friends or family members, or we may have to face our own mortality. This can be a difficult and emotional experience, but it is important to remember that grief is a normal part of life. It is also essential to seek out support from loved ones or professional counsellors if we are struggling with these emotions.
When we become old, our lives will change in many ways. We may experience physical limitations, changes in our social networks, changes in our cognitive abilities, and a sense of loss or grief. However, it is important to remember that these changes do not have to define our lives. With the right support and attitude, we can continue to live fulfilling and happy lives, no matter our age.
In sum, the physical, mental, social, and societal changes that come with ageing are significant reasons why I don’t want to be old. While ageing is an inevitable part of life, it’s crucial to prioritize healthy habits such as regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and social engagement to minimize the impact of ageing on our lives. I believe that we can still lead fulfilling lives at any age by focusing on maintaining our physical and mental health except for the torture of old age.


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