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Day Three

Where is this going? What is our next step? What do we do? We don’t know. We have never experienced something like this on such a global scale since World War 2.

The entire world has come to a standstill. People are frightened. Petri ed. We see the worst in people coming to the surface – racism and xenophobia.

Why is this? What is it that we are so afraid of? Why are we all in lockdown, why has the world stopped? DEATH – there, I said it. We are afraid of dying. We are all scared that we, or someone we love, will die. We have implemented the most extreme measures the world has ever seen because we do not want to die. In certain countries, if you are over 60 or in some places 70, you will not receive medical care that involves being put on a ventilator. Those will be reserved for “younger” people who have more to contribute to the economy. Yes, you understood right. This is what it has come to.

I wonder if anyone has bothered to ask people over 70 how they feel about this “arrangement”. The thought is unthinkable. Yet, that is the current status quo. But I would love to know what older people think, and how they feel about this. Because I think we are missing something in our petrified and scared state of mind. I wonder how many older people fear death. Ironically, I have just started a series of talks on dying when COVID-19 came to throw a spanner in the works. And oh, then my own Father died on the 21st of February. Bad timing. He was good at throwing a spanner in the works and getting his timing wrong.

I was just about to explore how older people felt about dying when my 84-year-old, very t and healthy biker Dad, had a stroke and died two weeks later. What did I learn from this – that it is time we started talking about dying. That we stop pretending that we are going to live forever. That we are NOT immortal, that the only thing we can be sure of is that none of this will get out of here alive. We are all going to die. And that thought will spur us into Living!

No, I do not want to suffer or die from suffocation. Yet, why do we think that WE should be spared from this thing called death? Why do we think that it is something that mostly happens in Italy or Spain? Their old people are usually held as the beacons of good health – all that sunshine, the Mediterranean diet, the red wine. Hell, why are they suddenly all dying? We thought we had it figured out.

Nope. We have not figured it out. And all the lockdown and masks and billions towards finding a vaccine…whatever. We are still not going to get out of here alive.

Maybe not from Covid-19, maybe not soon, but trust me, you are going to die!

I know this is not what anyone wants to hear right now. No no no, we want to create activities for older people, keep them safe, find ways to communicate with them, and keep them busy. How about we all shut up and start having the most valuable and meaningful conversations with each other, about our mortality? We have not conquered death, and Covid-19 is a reminder. Yes, it is not a gentle reminder, it is more like a siren waking us from our peaceful slumber, cutting through esh and bone right to our marrow.

This is our wake-up call. I hope for once we are going to listen. And that when this is over, we will not celebrate the fact that we “beat” the virus, that we “won the war”. I hope that we will become quiet, introspective, contemplating the gift of Life. The precariousness of our Being here in this reality. That we will see and hear and feel and smell the transient nature of our time on this planet.

And I hope that we will change our ways. That we will rethink the role of Elders. That we will see them as valuable assets. Contributors, not consumers. I hope that during this crisis our Elders will step up. We say that our Elders should live in an environment where they can give, and not just receive. I hope this crisis is waking up Elders across the globe to smell the coffee.

Elders, wake up! You are not the vulnerable victim of a virus. Wake up and take charge again of your environment. Stand up now, your country needs you! Take charge of your own Life and see how YOU can change the course of history alongside COVID-19. In The Eden Alternative, we use the acronym GROWTH. I love it! It says Get real. Reach out. Open up and dream. Work up a plan. Take action. Hold fast….

This is what the world needs from every older person now. GROWTH. Get real and face the music. Reach out to those around you and open up and dream. Then work up some plans on how you can get involved, help, support, guide, entertain, pray – whatever you think is needed. Then, take action. Get off your backside and make yourself useful! Now is not the time to sit and wait to be served – now is the time for you to be of service, in whatever small or big way that you can!

And then, hold fast. Don’t let go. Even when this pandemic is over, hold fast to living your life. If you are still here, you go. You grow. Human life should never be separated from human growth. This is truer now than ever before – now is the time for GROWTH!

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