When I’m 70 \ all in a day’s work

(* wrote this while sitting in my office cubicle waiting for time to pass – )
Another absent colleague notified me to help assign a writing task to her class this morning.
The kids were tasked to write an essay regarding certain interesting issues about life. I found one of the questions especially striking and appealing for discussion, to talk about a day in the life of a seventy year-old, or more specifically, how the student wishes to live when he or she turns 70.
Amidst the scripts that I collected after the lesson ended, I found two pieces that were same, but different.
Student A mentioned how she would want to wake up later at a comfortable timing of 11 o’clock every morning, and then head to play mahjong with her ‘old’ friends. Later in the day, she expects her grandchildren to head over to her place, where she gets the chance to bake cookies and prepare sumptuous meals for the younger ones. And over food, she would love to tell her grandchildren stories of her life, and she wants the kids to do the same, sharing with her bits and pieces of their lives as well. In the last paragraphs of her essay she included this particular line: “Well, maybe I don’t even need to cook or clean. There may be robots to help me do that by then.”
Student B was a tad more cynical about aging as compared to Student A. Even the introductory sentences – “When I am seventy, I think I would be very slow and forgetful. I would wake up very late and my whole body would be cracking. Then I always tell myself that I am not old, just crispy.” – even the amusing diction of “crispy” hinted the slight objectification of being an elderly in today’s society, hinting the brittle nature of the aged. These ominous expectations of aging seemed like dark heavy clouds curtaining ahead, right from his beginning lines.
In the penultimate paragraph, he added that it could be impossible for him to be able to work. Even so, he stated that he would be working as a road sweeper as he would be “too weak for other jobs”. And the only activity that was mentioned throughout his whole account, was yet again, mahjong.
Pessimism or pragmatism? With more than half a century more to be able walk in these shoes that they were tasked to put themselves into, these kids either look forward to more relaxation in their golden years, or even have an immense fear of being, as suggested, incapable. In these young energetic minds, aging is having sedentary lifestyles and being immobile (by playing mahjong daily and using robots as a tool to get by).
As a young adult a few years older than the kids in this class, I myself am not sure whether aging is supposed to impose a sense of foreboding on me. Seeing my own grandmothers losing their own memory and admittedly becoming childlike and needy, I can’t help to feel the same way as Student B too.
However, in this given context, I would love to call myself Student C – Student C who belongs to the category of overflowing, oozing optimism. If you sense any sardonic humor in my statements, they aren’t there deliberately because this is how I feel, ideally, being 70 could (or should) be like:
I would have stopped working – unlike the ambitious Student B who still wants to stay employed – and have plenty of savings and disposable income. Well, at least adequate for my personal enjoyment, for, say, travelling.
I would spend an expansive amount of time seeing the remaining parts of the world that I have yet to see. My Track & Field coach always shared stories of how he invited his wife on a cruise ship to cross the seven seas – from the exotic Caribbean islands to the deserts of Africa (and you would have guessed that he was always on vacation so our team had to train ourselves up most of the time. Just saying!). Undoubtedly I would want to marry a man like my coach. Not that there would be all-expenses-paid-for trips around the globe, just that having a travelling companion to spend the rest of my life with when I’m 70, or older, is the best thing one could ever dream of. Given a chance, I would want to be alive, kicking and restless at this ripe old age.
After seeing many endless sunsets, sunrises are supposed to be treasured and held as priceless. A flower’s beauty does not last forever – we know its petals do not bloom as brightly when they are about to wither, but as it droops its neck and heaves a sigh of relief before falling onto the warm ground, we see how it lies there – an elegant brown that has absorbed countless rays of sunshine throughout its span of living.


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