Age 70 equals 50 years in one’s profession

THIS writer recently turned 70 years old, or younger at 50 as a journalist.

“You are already an institution,” broadcaster Novie Guazo commented on Facebook.

I wish I could agree without sounding conceited; I am not. Against the urging of my relatives, I did not throw a birthday party to celebrate that milestone. I simply looked up to the invisible God to thank him for keeping me still active in my journalism profession.

I was 20 in 1970 when I started as a ghostwriter for a columnist of the defunct Philippine Sun and Evening News in Manila. Yes, it has been 50 long years, but retirement is not an option. Should I park my pen, I would be more prone to loss of memory.  I said “more prone” because, sa totoo lang, we senior citizens normally forget.

I would like to think that by keeping my brain busy through writing for a living, one not only prevents hunger but also dementia (chronic memory loss) and Alzheimer’s Disease. By writing daily, I am forced to read and update myself with what’s going on here and there, and forced to consult the dictionary or thesaurus for forgotten words and meanings.

 Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.  

But of course, it is a “given” that as man rises in age, his vitality falls. As the Bible says, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).

That Bible verse may have troubled people who fear having stepped on “pre-departure area.” But why not be thankful for enjoying the bonus years which could mean 10, 20, or 30 more?

In fact, there could be no adventure without traversing the path from womb to tomb. No wonder the young ones beg of us young once to enthrall them with adventures we have lived through.

Old people need not be discarded. Old but healthy men reflect deathless character and pricelessness – just like the old masters’ paintings, diamonds, old silverware, old furniture, old coins, old books, aged wine and vintage cars. Greece, Rome and Egypt thrive because of tourists who flock to see the ruins of past civilizations.

We don’t always lament the loss of a new thing; we cry over the breakage of an antique plate or jug.

The word “old” as “googled” sprang from an Indo-European verb that means “to nourish.” No wonder, when we ask a “young” child for his age, we ask, “How old are you?” 

Unfortunately, when compared to “new,” “fresh” and “young,” the adjective “old” narrows its meaning to “stale,” “worn” and “dying.”

Reading a book on Benjamin Franklin – whose picture appears on all US $100 bills – made me pleasantly aware that he was already 81 in 1787 when elected to the Constitutional Convention that would frame the Constitution of the newly-created United States of America.

That means I still have 11 long years to catch up with Franklin. His biography buoyed my spirit because, to reiterate, I am still active on the job despite memory lapses. 

Since expertise in a vocation or profession requires time, it would be a waste of time to abandon what has taken many years to sharpen.  

“In the end,” to quote US President Abraham Lincoln, “it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s life in your years.” ([email protected]/PN)

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