Determine your destiny

Justice may have been delayed—but not denied. Three years ago, after the passing of Aruna Shanbaug, I wrote in this column about the euthanasia debate, the need to allow the terminally ill the dignity to die. And last month, in a landmark judgement, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India proclaimed that “the right to die with dignity is part of the right to life”, sanctioning passive euthanasia through an ‘advance medical directive’ or ‘living will’; with, of course, the necessary safeguards in place to prevent malfeasance or abuse.

We welcome this judgement as it goes to the heart of self-determination for silvers, the need to not just breathe but enjoy each breath, to not just live but experience quality of life. And just as the dignity to die must be an unalienable right so should the ability to live life to one’s fullest potential.

I recently read an article about ‘superagers’—a term coined by American neurologist Marsel Mesulam—who live long and productive lives. Scientists are now working overtime to discover why some silvers enjoy great longevity accompanied by good cognitive and physical health, enabling them to not just survive but thrive. Apparently, a recent study by Northwestern University team contends that these active agers have more ‘von Economo neurons’ (brain cells that are believed to increase communication) than their silver peers.

Now, I’m not a scientist, nor do I understand the jargon of neuroscience. But I do know that ‘von Economo neurons’ or not, we all have the ability to become superagers. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not about longevity but quality of life, not about the years under your belt but what you do with them. In essence, the mantra is to stay relevant, potent, engaged.

Ageing may be inevitable but apathy is the real danger. It’s far too easy to stop caring about living your best life, even easier to just throw in the towel and give in to the march of time. It’s harder to set your own course, chart a new roadmap for activity and self-discovery, understand your potential and work to realise it. But that is where the rewards lie: the self-actualisation, self-belief and, yes, relevance you will experience will energise your body, mind and soul.

These rewards are your very own; whether your journey touches one life or countless others, it should be meaningful, it must bring you satisfaction. So don’t pass up the fight, never quit, love deeply, rage hard, believe in your power, and live life to the hilt. You owe it to yourself.

By Tina Ambani

Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
April 2018