100 Not Out!
Why would you wake up tomorrow? Why should you take it a little easy?
Being a teenager who was fascinated by the ‘carpe diem’ concept (seizing the now), popularised by poems like Robert Browning’s ‘The Last Ride Together’ and as a woman who still binge-watches on shows like ‘Little Things’, the present and the little are all that matters and makes sense. It’s a different thing that tall talk mostly remains idealistic when it comes to implementing them for real!
Anyways, I saw a video this weekend, which once again activated my brain cells and tugged at my heartstrings. It is about people. They are frugal in number when compared to the vast population of the world. They have been leading happy and healthy lives for as long as a hundred years or even more. I was intrigued. Sounds nice but like an oxymoron, right?
As we all know, various researches are being conducted to study the conditions conducive for physical and mental health favouring life and longevity. Out of the infinite investigations, one of them, as discussed by Dan Buettner on a Ted show, yielded remarkable results.
In that show, Dan speaks of five zones that have been identified in this world where people are mostly centenarians. More importantly, they are hale and hearty and conduct themselves consciously and purposefully. A microscopic analysis of their lives and lifestyles have unfolded facts and foundations that commonly bind them and are the keys to their successful construct. Carefully hearing out that video, I realised that I had always known all of it, at least 85% of the information but hadn’t put to use even a minor share of 10%.
To start with, they have a reason to wake up every morning. Even I have a reason. I need to get my daughter ready for school and rush into the chores of the day. But that’s not the reason that’s being discussed. Daily habitual activities are mostly monotonous and hardly enjoyed. The reason to live is something that you will look forward to. And which will even take off the drudgery of routine tasks and in turn make them pleasurable. It could be your job, an activity, planning, a sum of all these or just the way of looking at things.
Somebody’s reason to wake up can be watering her potted plants or going out for a morning walk with her neighbours. Again another one’s reason could be for involvement in a scientific breakthrough to save the constantly depleting world. As long as it is felt, truly, madly and deeply, anything and everything can be the drive to live.
In a remote island called Okinawa, which lies to the southwest of Japan, this reason or drive is called ‘Ikigai.’ The island is filled with happy centenarians and their secret behind it is their Ikigai. As I was reading up articles on this miraculous concept, I noticed a fact. I mean it’s right there in front of our eyes and yet we choose to see it differently.
As a man goes through his life, until a particular point of time, he is occupied and very busy. And then suddenly one day, he retires not only from work but as if, from life. He is isolated and steadily becomes redundant. Physically and mentally. So now, what do you think, this man would like to wake up for? He has lost his reason, after all. But what if he finds new jobs and he is assigned new roles? What if he is motivated or self-driven towards all those things which he always wanted to do but never had the time for? And it’s no more an alien theory these days. I know of many people who begin to take their hobbies a bit too seriously in this phase of their lives. I am actually related to one who is getting trained for making it to the Everest Base Camp! But my concern is elsewhere. We are always inspired and intrigued. But are we actively involving ourselves in helping our parents, in-laws, relatives or neighbours take this route? I think you have my answer. No.
The children and the youth of today are also, shockingly, demotivated and delusional. They are either mindlessly hurtling along or merely dragging on. Perhaps, we adults need to step back and let a child be herself so as to find her Ikigai. That takes me back to a preliminary science experiment in school. Only when the muddy water in a beaker is left aside, the particles settle below and clear water stands above.
The areas where blithe centenarians have been found are termed as the Blue Zones. A noticeable aspect of the people of the blue zones is that they take it slow. Slow as in relishing every moment fully before blending into the next. Here I am reminded of a Doha by Kabir, the celebrated Indian mystic, poet and saint of the 15th-century:
“Dhere Dhere Re Mana, Dhere Sab Kuch Hoye
Mali Seenche So Ghara, Ritu Aaye Phal Hoye”
It’s time we reflect on the truth of this verse of Kabir when life around us resembles nothing short of a frenzied race. Tell me, how can we feel anything when we are always in a rush? Everything is only a blur in our lives until we reach a point. I mean an age, decided by us or dictated by society, when we suddenly come to a screeching halt. The phase that I was talking about, the point when one abruptly becomes redundant. Now think of that happening to a vehicle and you’ll exactly read my thoughts! An accident is inevitable. Instead, we need to be like those centenarians. We need to pause, ponder, savour the experience and only then proceed. This habit will not only obviate exhaustion but also add life to our years.
So before I share some other known-yet-unknown secrets, let’s try to consolidate purpose and pace to produce a productive and prolonged life.