Monday, March 24, 2008

The Candle of Life

Glancing through the obituaries in the newspapers, I noticed the age of the deceased range from 30 plus to over 90s, with the average deceased age at around 70.

Many believe life itself is unfair, the world is unfair, and death seems to be the only equalizer. But looking at the aforementioned statistics, it seems that death may itself be unfair as some do not live long, maybe till 30 plus while for others, their candles of life do not wither off till 90 years of age. For me, I consider living beyond the age of 50 a blessing already, if one can achieve most of what he sets to achieve by then.

Imagine if one is to pass on around the average age of 70 while another lives till 90; though both are considered to be in advanced stages of ages, the difference in age is a staggering of 20 years! Can you imagine how much difference one can make and do in this amount of time (provided that one is healthy enough)?

Back to the question of fairness in death, another side of the equation is to look at the quality of life instead of the length of life. Indeed, it would not be meaningful and fulfilling if one lives to a very ripe old age, only to suffer in sickness and pain, without any family, friends and relatives. Would it be fair to one if he lives a long life to suffer in this sense? (he may find it unfair to live long to suffer and hope for an earlier end to life).

Singaporeans are living longer and the government is implementing compulsory annuity for all adult Singaporeans with monthly payouts to be given out from the age of 85 onwards. When this policy came to the forefront few months ago, many doubt whether they can live up to this age. To counter these doubts, the government drew upon some statistics to support the premise that there is a ‘significant number’ of people who are older than 85 and 100 years old.

Health is the most important element in life and it underscores the quality of living in the older years. One must constantly exercise his mental and physical muscles else degradation will set in and before long, one would waste away.

Numerous reports abound of the fact that people who have retire and spend their time at home, idling around do not last long. The government is also encouraging older workers to work and to defer the minimum retiring age to 65 or higher. The committee in charge of ageing issues led by Minister Lim Boon Heng is also promoting an active lifestyle among senior citizens, a lifestyle premised on continuous learning and upgrading so that these senior citizens can still be still of relevance to and in touch with the society. The silver industry is set to boom in Singapore in tandem with the increase in the aged in Singapore, come 20 years later. Manjong, a game once banned in the community centres is making a revival as the relevant policyholders and authorities considered it to be a healthy mental game, citing the advantages the workout could give to their minds by researchers and academicians.

Ultimately, as the famous saying goes, life is not about nature or nurture, it is about the choices one makes in life. How true is this saying! In many points in life, we witness people who are unfortunately disabled or handicapped achieve much more than ordinary man, take for example, Dr. William Tan, who though wheel-chair bounded has achieved many firsts with his many marathon feats, all within the confines of his wheelchair and raising thousands of dollars for charity! One can also be nurtured well but ultimately if he makes a wrong choice and a wrong decision follows (e.g. mixing with bad companies or picking up bad habits), his life will inevitably be affected for the worse.

Towards this goal, one shall not wait and procrastinate; rather one shall proactively seek what he wants to achieve now! One shall also seek to exercise, eat right, focus on health, develop good mental and physical strength and cultivate meaningful relationships now! There can be no better time than now! Time and tide waits for no man, life is unpredictable, our flames of life may wither anytime.

It is precisely due to the uncertainties of life (no one knows when one would pass on) which causes some to indulge in merry-making and pleasure while they are still strong and healthy to enjoy and partake in such worldly pleasures. As with many other things, too much of anything is not good.

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