A wonderful song played during the farewell ceremonies honoring a beloved company president; retiring after more than 30 years of service, videos of friends and colleagues saying goodbye from offices around the world; their faces gleaming with pride and sorrow, shown in large television sets scattered around the lobby, the inspiring music echoing in the halls. After the ceremony, the revered man spoke about all the secretaries who have helped him, talking of each person by name, an inspiring sight to see, acknowledging the people behind the limelight, avoiding any grand subject but just a sincere and honest thank you. Now that’s the way to go, not talking about world events or magnificent themes but stick to the people who actually helped you; the old man talking about his rise, telling his humble stories like being a waiter in college to pay for his tuition; an inspired speaker with natural grace and dignity. He is a rare individual, watching his life play out, in the tributes of his friends, in the large screen was a touching scene; like being in the presence of someone special. One wonders if he will ever get this kind of tribute, organized flawlessly and played out in elegant surroundings, but one feels it will come if one deserves it; one’s life a testament to whatever one had set out to achieve; perhaps being a decent person is enough.
I watched the movie ‘Siddhartha’, adapted from the book by Herman Hesse, a beautiful film that tries to grasp the essence of life, about one who searched for enlightenment, achieving his goal and living his old age as someone who helps people cross a river. The scenes of India was perfect, cinematography by Sven Nykvist, and directed by Conrad Rooks, heir to the Avon dynasty and substance abuser, who may have found salvation from the book. In an interview, Conrad first read the novel when given by his wife together with Jack Keroauc’s ‘On The Road’, an intriguing mix that is enough to drive anyone crazy; hedonism and asceticism in both books, reflecting the hero Siddhartha who rejected teachings from the Buddha, preferring actual experience; instead of religious lessons, meditations and the usual road taken by ‘sadhus’ – India’s name for holy men. The film showed the Brahmin’s journey from wealthy youth, then a wandering ascetic, searching for truth but departing from the holy life; learning business, sex from a courtesan and finally living as a river pilot in his old age. A contrast from the company president’s life, though similar in the diversity of experience; a difference in the end, with one living humbly in his final years, and perhaps the other with wealth and idle time filled with charitable causes.
Being middle age is a time where one re-thinks his directions; for most people it means a decline towards death, but perhaps it means a rebirth, where one is able to go forward with more confidence to achieve one's true dreams in life’s last decades; youthful exuberance long gone and hormones stable, ensuring a more mature life; the accumulation of experience enough to fuel the next stage. One is eager to get to the next challenge, tired by the recent years of doing the same work; now an opportunity presents itself, perhaps more challenges; an attempt to rise above the usual mediocrity, but is it only the usual drive for better things or more experiences? It’s a new day for sure, but one wonders where the right direction will be, perhaps meeting old friends this coming week will clarify the way. Surfing the Internet one sees old friends; from high school, from college, from one’s fraternity; pictures scattered in cyberspace, eating in restaurants, playing golf, posing in pictures; once young faces now mostly wrinkled and old, some with grey hair, some still smiling and having fun, some in the old country, while others living abroad; one sees the road one could have taken and be in those pictures, too.