‘I want to bicycle from India to Hongkong to see my son’ shared Nirupama, a 71 years young bicyclist I met in Pune.

As lofty as her dream sounded to either of us, I was sure she would be on this dream trip very soon.
She had shared stories about her bicycle trips to Laddakh, Kanniyakumari among other places in India.
Having started bicycling after retiring from work at the age of 60, she kept on challenging herself and went past barriers even young adults wouldn’t dare dream to.

I saw the apprehension in her eyes while she shared her dream, wondering if she could go bicycling across countries to see her son.

I wanted to make her believe that she could do it.
I took out my phone and showed her a route she could take to reach Hongkong starting from Bangkok.

Her eyes lit up like a chiselled diamond.

And I am sure, as I write this, she’s busy back home, thinking of ways to make this trip happen.

What an inspiration she is !

This encounter reminded me of two other elderly friends I had met in Thailand.
One of them by the name of Phulong, 72, who wants to bicycle all around Thailand on his own.
I’m sure he’s biking around in some part of Thailand as I write this.

The other friend, Eugene, 72, an Irishman I had met at a hostel, wished to sail to India on his Yacht.
In fact, that what was he was going to start doing the moment he was back home.
Maybe he’s fixing up his Yacth as you’re reading this.

Meeting such ambitious and proactive elderly folk left me humbled.
I wondered how they could exist in such a state of being.

The answer I found was on the lines of their perception and interaction with two factors :

a) Time

b) Mindspace.

The elderly have only a decade
or so of life left to make something of. Yet, they have the a lot of time to reflect, imagine and think of ways to achieve a distant dream. The awareness of the finitude of their life only helps them to attribute more value to the little time they have on earth.

Also, the mindspace of ‘It is Now or Never’ is most obvious at their age. They are not afraid of anything that used to hold them back when they were young adults. They are in a position to imagine without inhibition.

I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the relationship kids have with time and mindspace vis-a-vis the elderly.

While it is finitude that helps the elderly imagine and act without inhibition, it is the apparent infinitude, a timelessness in which the imaginative spirit of a child thrives.

A child has no fear of dreaming or acting on its dreams. If a child wants to be a doctor, he would just put a dummy stethoscope around it’s neck, wear the elder siblings oversized shirt and he’s ready to treat anyone and everyone in sight.
A child imagines and acts in the best of its capacity.

As young adults, what can we learn from the elderly and kids about ambition, imagination and taking action?

We live in an age where we have neither the time nor the mindspace to imagine and act on our dreams.
Aren’t most of us busy with something or the other that commands all of our immediate attention?

And sadly, we have become comfortable with devoting time to things that we are asked to do, without really thinking if it truly matters to us in the long run.

Part of the reason is because we dwell in the dangerous domain in our understanding of time,
in between finitude and infinitude.

If we really feel a sense of timelessness as kids, we would truly be present in each moment and be able to imagine the way we must.
At the same time, if we truly understand the finitude, the fragility of life, as the elderly do, we would, at all times, act responsibly and do things that matter to us.

Would it not be the best way to exist,
To live with complete understanding of our relationship with time and mindspace?
To understand finitude and infinity and let the wagon of our lives soar on the twin rails of imagination and action ?

If we choose to live with this awareness,
Could life ever be little?