Paarth Madan

A medium to iterate on my own thoughts.

Old Age

Posted at — Jul 17, 2021

Once a man, twice a child.

This phrase is one with ties to the Bible, the theory of retro-genesis, and possibly Shakespeare.

The origin of the phrase is unimportant, but its meaning is quite profound.

It speaks to the nature of human life. We each start out as children, dependent on our family and community. As we progress into adulthood, our dependence on others decreases. Instead, we become those who help raise and support others. Finally, as we enter old age, we once again regress into our past child-like dependency on others.

Living with my Grandma has been a blessing for many reasons. I’m consistently exposed to this insight of life. My Grandma’s decreased ability to support herself reminds me that I too will lose what I take for granted. It reminds me of the importance of family and social relations. It highlights the importance of building a family, so one has those who can care for them. It teaches me that there’s no shame in requiring help.

On a possibly related note, I spent some thinking about how life would be different had I been born and raised in India instead.

Households are structured differently in India compared to the norms of the Western world. Households are composed of the extended family—sometimes multiple families—comprising of seniors, adults and children alike.

I think one advantage of this structure is the perspective it provides for everyone. As highlighted above, living with my Grandmother has exposed me to realities of life that I would’ve otherwise been blind to. Imagine these same realizations but for a larger, more varied set of people.

For instance, growing up with other kids—boys and girls. Being exposed to people of different ages, all in different stages of life. Having close bonds with seniors married for decades, and newly-wed adults. Living with newborn babies and experiencing death more frequently.

The perspectives one could derive would be, to say the least, interesting. I think growing up with exposure to the vastly different stages of life helps me appreciate each stage while I’m in it.

Maybe, this highlights the advantage of community. I suppose community exists in the Western world, but perhaps to a lesser extent.

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