Old people. Fascinating.
I’ve always been interested in the elderly; if there were an academic field, i’d study it. Oldology maybe. There’s something that those of a certain age possess, something that puts us youngsters to shame. In part, it’s wisdom - experience. More than that, though, I think it’s the resilience that a lot of elderly people show in the face of adversity, that characteristic strength that only comes with age.
Folk were tougher in those days, it’s true. I’ve been attending some teaching of His Holiness the Dalai Lama here in Dharmshala, and alongside the sheer greatness of this guy, the most impressive thing i’ve seen is the devotion of the elderly Tibetan people.
There’s a trail that circles the Dalai Lama’s temple. It’s a few kms, and winds through a forest and up and down some steep hills. You can follow this trail at 5am and you’ll be confronted with hoardes of aged devotees, stumbling with intent along the path, working their way up the slopes with a dedication that’d put any young Sherpa to shame. Little old ladies with walking sticks will keep pace with goofy kids; wisened men will stop only to tell the youngsters that they should show some respect for their elders. All the time they’re muttering prayers under their breath - om mani padme hum, om mani padme hum - and running what are akin to rosary beads through their quivering hands. As for me, I can only follow in quiet admiration.
Yes, the elderly. They really don’t build ‘em like they used to.