I REFER to the editorial, "A full life, well lived" (NST, Feb 5). I would like to share a story about life that I got from a friend.
A man died at the age of 45. He said to God: "Why did you take my life at an early age? I need another 10 years." God asked four questions. "Do you smoke?" The man said "no!" "Do you drink alcohol?" The man said "no!" "Do you gamble?" The man said "no!" "Do you womanise?" The man said "no!"
Then God said: "If you don't do all these things, why do you need to live another 10 years? You are wasting my time."
As the editorial said: "A person has only this one life to live; that life need not be filled with regret looking backwards, nor dread looking forward."
Old age is a figment of the mind. A man does not grow old but ages gracefully if he manages his life properly.
There is a saying that life begins at 40. Many men discover that there is life even after 60.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner discovered life is worth living at 82 when he married a 26-year-old model.
Old age is about experience and wisdom. It is also the age of wanting to be young again, to make up for lost time. They are children again. Just go to a dangdut club and we can see the old outnumber the young and are having a gala time. They forget for a moment they have grandchildren at home.
Some climb mountains, some ride Harley Davidson motorcycles, complete with skintight gear and boots. Some prefer to go to the mosque.
Old age is also an age of fear: fear of being left alone to fend for oneself. Children may find the old a nuisance, so they send the old to the old folks' home.
Given the high cost of living, nothing is certain. The old have to prepare for eventualities. They must not put all their eggs in one basket.
Even the rich have to think what will happen to their wealth after they die.
Author Robert Louis Stevenson said: "Youth is the time to go flashing from one end of the world to the other both in mind and body; to try the manners of different nations; to hear the chimes at midnight; to see sunrise in town and country."
Youth never take life seriously for they do not understand the meaning of life. To them, time does not seem to move. They feel they have all the time in the world.
They will never understand the words of wisdom from their parents or from great thinkers like former British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, who said: "Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret".
Indeed, youth is the age of blunder, recklessness and of being anti-establishment.
It is imperative for the government to make life meaningful for the young and the old.
The government can come up with volunteer programmes for youth to keep them occupied.
This will make them more responsible, more aware and increases their self-esteem.
Most importantly, it occupies their time in a productive manner. The National Service programme is good and the government should ensure that all youth go through the course to make them understand life better.
Political parties should come up with more social programmes for youth.
In the final analysis, as the editorial said: "The reality of life, youth, old age and whether being 'old' or 'young' is a good or bad thing, is whatever one chooses to make of it."
Hassan Talib, Gombak, Selangor | email@example.com New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 12 February 2013