In Test cricket, there is a second innings. Some players play better in the second innings; they bowl and bat pretty well on weary pitches and also do not succumb to pressure. In the one-day format, there is no second innings; there are slog overs. Our second innings start when we retire from ‘active’ work life. There are some unfortunate people whose second innings come too early. For some, their first innings also remain unfinished. We can only bid farewell and pay tributes. Phillip Hughes, we are going to miss you.
When our active work life is over, we look for new roles to discover ourselves. Our second inning brings mixed feelings; the feeling ranges from leisure and freedom to boredom and isolation. We are swarmed with ‘well-meaning’ advises. We need well-deserved rest, after all we have slogged for years. They begin to take decisions on our behalf. They tend to forget how one spends his time is his personal choice. The advice generally comes from the ones who have no experience of the time they are talking about.
Personal choice could take many forms. It could simply be spending time with family and friends and nurturing neglected relationships. Some would simply like to flow with the time. One may not like to ‘utilise’ his time usefully. For some, ‘expenditure’ on ‘good time’ need not necessarily be productive time. Many in their second innings recognise that they are not ‘physically young’. Does that mean they should strictly follow ‘eating right’ regime? What is the right time to stop learning and start living? Who decides if one is young or old? Do we not see many physically ‘old’ persons who are ‘mentally’ young?
Actor Dev Anand amply demonstrated his zest for life and films. He directed and acted in a film when he was 85. Julie Andrews, on turning 69, sings “...when the knees go bad, I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don’t feel so bad... When the eyes grow dim, then I remember the great life I’ve had, and then I don’t feel so bad.” Nirad C Chaudhuri, at 100, believed that “the last act is glorious, however, squalid the play may be in all the rest.” For Cephalus, “…he who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition, youth and age are equally a burden.” Mortimer Adler’s tips are most interesting. On his 80th birthday bash, he advised: never exercise, eat only the most delicious calories; if you don’t succeed in your first marriage, try again; work harder as you get older; surround yourself with friends and associates with whom you can be almost as honest as you are with yourself; get over the folly of thinking that there is any conflict between high living and high thinking; asceticism is for the birds; and so on.
These are the persons who know the art of active aging. They know their limits and horizons. They are not afraid to appreciate what is worth appreciating. They are stubborn and unreasonable, but for a cause. They are imperfect but normal. They know how to deal with life’s disappointments. They can find out new meaning from familiar things. They may face imbalance in their bathrooms, but in life, they have acquired more balance. They are not worried when they don’t get enough sleep. Luxury of sleep also doesn’t bother them too much. They don’t bother too much about the final check out time. It comes when the time comes.

(The writer is a biotechnologist and ED, Birla Institute of
Scientific Research, Jaipur)
Purnendu Ghosh