How dare we call these folks elderly
Last week, I made a quick trip to Europe and had to deal with a seven-hour time difference. I have to admit that my body is affected more than it used to be . When I was young, I would assimilate to the new time zone in a few days; now, it takes longer.
This time I had a plan to minimize the effect. Before I boarded the airplane, I bought a sleep aid from a pharmacy at the airport. Generally, melatonin is known to help jet lag, but lack of sleep is the most critical cause of jet lag for me. Thanks to the pill, I didn’t suffer too much.
A former high-level diplomat traveling with me he told me about the secret tactic used by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. As soon as he boards, he sets his watch to local time at his destination and adjusts his routine. If it is night at the destination, he would try to sleep. He would ask the flight attendants to bring food at the time for meals at the destination.
Last week, the first Korea-E.U. Forum was held in Brussels, home of the European Union headquarters, and many members of the Korean delegation were my seniors. Some scholars were in their 70s. So I couldn’t complain about jet lag.
Moreover, I was impressed by their composure. They must have been suffering more from jet lag and travel, but they were energetic and alert. Once again, I thought that age is nothing but a number, as these senior scholars and diplomats completed their duties without a slight mistake or error.
I also read a newspaper interview with poet Jin Hyo-im, who published her first collection of 69 poems, titled “Scent of Gardenia Flowers,” at age 70. She learned the Korean alphabet at a welfare center for three years and began writing poems. “I just wrote poems because I cannot write long prose,” she said. But she made me think about the meaning of life.
Choi Yang-suk, who is known for the hit song “Autumn Letter,” is scheduled to perform a concert at KBS Hall in early November. It will be the first solo concert for the 70-year-old singer. I was always curious who sang this beautiful song. Composer Kim Min-gi wrote the melody to a poem by Ko Eun. I am excited to see the performance of the septuagenarian singer.
They have transcended the time difference in life and always do their best. How dare we call these spirited people elderly?
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Bae Myung-bok