Published in The Tribune on 7th January 2011

There’s no telling when the evening of life could choose to descend upon a human being. It comes unsuspectingly, without much ado, and entirely inevitably.

For some, it begins when they start believing that they’re past their prime, even when they’re not.  For others it comes only when it’s almost time to go; when they’ve actually arrived at the departure lounge, as one former officer puts it.

Indeed, the evening of life is as much a state of mind as it is a state of being. There are those who never seem to retire even years after they have actually done so. They are never morose, come what may. They choose to whistle their way through life, and continue to do so even when it is time for the curtain to come down. When it is finally time for them to go, they do so in a blaze of glory. A glow of goodwill and warmth accompanies them.

An 85 year old lady celebrated her birthday recently with much pomp and show. Her grandchildren around her, she looked resplendent, and couldn’t stop smiling.

When asked about the favourite moment of her life, she replied nonchalantly, “This very one! I have always lived in the present and enjoyed each moment to the fullest. ”

Indeed, those who look upon life’s problems less seriously seem to be the ones who avoid most of its bumps. One retired government officer is much like an entrepreneur, who discovers himself anew every day. He writes, he lectures, he travels and he holds people enthralled with tales old and new. He has an office of his own and is visited by more friends than most serving officers even today.

The general bonhomie and loud guffaws that are an integral part of his office- environment are clearly a reflection of his own glowing personality. As he regales visitors with anecdote after anecdote from his life, he spreads cheer all around.

Another retiree has actually taken to professional singing after hanging up his official boots. He sings at friends’ parties and even sings commercially, at other events. He says that he’s enjoying life much more than he ever did as a serving officer. His family is always around to hear him croon, and the loud cheers that the crowd unfailingly gives him each time are clearly music to his own ears. The glow on his face and the smile on his lips as he performs make one wonder whether he shouldn’t have been a singer all his life. There’s clearly much to be said about the sheer pizazz that he possesses as he breezes his way through life now.

One thing’s certain. The evening of life has the potential to be as joyous as any other phase of life. What helps make it so is a smile on the lips and a song in the heart.