Living Gracefully for Aging Gracefully

Phyllis Farias
5 min readSep 24, 2023

Once you reach your 60’s or 70’s one tends to gravitate towards articles and videos which tell or rather attempt to teach you, how to ‘age gracefully’ — better called ‘Aging gracefully’. I am often told that I am growing old gracefully, perhaps, because, I give that impression. I have never dyed my hair!!

One fine day, a fortnight ago after an afternoon nap, hubby announces, ‘the topic for your next blog should be, ‘Living gracefully’. I was taken aback. But I did give it some thought, mulled over the idea for some days and then concluded that it is difficult to age gracefully if one has not lived gracefully before one becomes a senior citizen. Then I thought it would be a good idea to give the younger generation a few home truths — never mind that I have not lived gracefully in many areas of my life. I am facing the consequences of my earlier mistakes now and hence aging gracefully has become indeed tough!

While thoughts were running in my mind, I picked up a book from my ‘To Read’ pile of books entitled, ‘The Tao of Pooh’ by Benjamin Hoff. ‘Finding Inner peace with Winnie the Pooh’ inspired by the original works by A. A. Milne with decorations by E. H. Shepard

This is it, I thought. A good formula for living gracefully. All it required was a riddle, a song and a notice from the book.

Let me start with this famous song

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,

A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.

Ask me a riddle and I reply:

“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,

A fish can’t whistle and neither can I.

Ask me a riddle and I reply:

“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,

Why does a chicken, I don’t know why.

Ask me a riddle and I reply:

“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Verse one says, ‘A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.

I see a lot of this as a career counsellor whether forced or otherwise, children who have taken the wrong subjects or the wrong stream. They are stuck and don’t know how to get unstuck. Heart-breaking to see the number of suicides in one place alone, ‘Kota’ in Rajasthan.

This reminds me of the poem ‘The Average Child’ by Michael Buscemi

Do read it on the net, but I will quote the last three verses –

‘I’d like to build a rocket;

I read a book on how.

Or start a stamp collection

But no use trying now.

’Cause, since I found I’m average,

I’m smart enough you see.

To know there’s nothing special

I should expect of me.

I’m part of that majority,

That hump part of the bell,

Who spends his life unnoticed,

In an average kind of hell.’

Going further along the timeline, people stuck in the wrong relationship, the wrong job, wrong location and so on.

To know where I belong and where I don’t I need to know my inner self, my inner nature.

Verse 2 — ‘A fish can’t whistle and neither can I.

I have tried to learn how to whistle for a long time but have failed. It is one of my limitations. But heck — so what? Trying to follow others blindly to do what you are not designed to do — well that is wrong, for one can cause pain to oneself and others.

Wait a moment. I do not mean that you should not try to be better, change and improve. It means know your inner self, your inner nature.

Verse 3 — Why does a chicken, I don’t know why.

Do I need to know why a chicken does, what it does?

Leave that poor chicken alone and let it cluck and scratch in the earth for its food. We can only work with our inner self, our inner nature — who we are . . . .

Let Benjamin Hoff tell you in this quote through a song ascribed to Pooh.

How can you get very far,

If you don’t know who you are?

How can you do what you ought,

If you don’t know what you’ve got?

And if you don’t know which to do

Of all the things in front of you,

Then what you’ll have when you are through

Is just a mess without a clue

Of all the best that can come true

If you know What and Which and Who.”

Now that does not need any explanation — except perhaps that while in the process of finding out the Who and What and Which, you may discover some things about yourself that you do not like. I know there are many things I do not like about myself — (Sorry, not confession time) But what should I do?

Trust your inner self, your inner nature and get rid of them completely or change them into other more beneficial things.

Blog writing was a way for me to channelize my weaknesses and face up to the cranky person I was turning into during the pandemic.

And now, to the Notice

Here are a couple of characters in the Pooh books by A. A. Milne — Rabbit went in search of Christopher Robin to his house. All he found was a blown down notice on the ground that said:

GON OUT

BACKSON

BISY

BACKSON

— C.R.

I didn’t know that Christopher Robin couldn’t spell — What does it matter? I loved the ‘BISY BACKSON’ wrong spelling and the imagery that comes along with it.

We are surrounded by bisy backsons. All one needs to do is stand at a crossroad, the railway station, the airport or a mall. Bisy Backsons, ‘me’ included — scrambling here, there and everywhere. How busy we are!!

Let’s start at the very beginning — What is the most common word children hear these days? According to me, it is –

Hurry Up! Hurry up and get up.

Hurry up and get ready.

Hurry up and drink your milk.

And teachers — Hurry up, write fast — I am cleaning the board.

And soon these children become bisy backsons stampeding through a day of tuition / coaching, tennis, tabla and what have you.

And with the bisy backson children, we have bisy backson parents — most often the mother chauffeuring her child from one class to another.

These children grow up to be bisy backson teenagers and young adults. And then we say, ‘slow down’! — How did you finish so fast — go back to your room and study some more. I forgot that I taught the child to be a bisy backson.

We are bisy backsons at any sort of work whether professional or non-professional even the home maker, who is supposed to have all the time in the world.

Everything is work — work, play, exercise, entertaining and praying too. There is no rest for the Bisy backson, who are now chronic backsons — always on the move, going somewhere, anywhere except where s/he is.

For what? The great goal — the marks, the higher salary, more and more money, jewellery, the car, the house, the contacts.

Always trying to reach the goal that is just out of reach.

Some reach it, but many fall through the cracks.

Of course, we should have goals. Let’s not forget that to reach the goal there is a process.

It is the process that helps one to discover the inner self, the inner nature. It is the process that makes us happy, good, courageous and this in turn helps us to reach out in compassion and love which comes from Wisdom.

The Fullness of living gracefully in order to age gracefully.

--

--

Phyllis Farias

Educational Consultant with 2 passions in life: the Child — from toddler to adolescent, and Education — education philosophy and psychology