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[Opinion] The Importance of Being Young at Heart

Posted October. 22, 2005 10:29,   


“To be 70 years young is sometimes more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old,” U.S. Supreme Court Judge Oliver Holmes often said. He lived with that mentality and lived until age 94.

There are old people who lead active lives like the young, and then there are young people who age rapidly. One can agree with doctors who say that aging is more affected by psychological factors than biological factors.

There are many active senior citizens. One can see them on the hiking trails or the neighborhood badminton courts, moving as lithely as the young. There are even old people directing traffic during rush hour. One 70-year old man passed the written portion of the driver’s license test after 194 tries. One 70-year old lady earned a variable insurance sales license after four tries. This test is known to be difficult even for young people.

Also, just recently, 78-year old Hong Sun-hyuk from Seoul passed the exam for a second-degree boiler maintenance license, after 30 tries. His books are tattered from studying for 15 years. “I wanted to study,” he said. “Now I’m contemplating what to study next until I am 90.” One can see feel his vigor and his warmth and generosity when he told his neighbors, who supported him, that he would take care of their boilers.

The biggest problem for these seniors is that they are still capable of working, yet there are no suitable jobs available. So they wander the streets or in the park, and some cannot stand the isolation from society and commit suicide. It is frustrating that society cannot provide these people with jobs. But the most important thing for these people is the personal will to find a way to live young, like Mr. Hong. People leading fulfilling lives by studying or doing volunteer work, and most of all enjoying life, are known to be more resistant to aging and diseases. Socrates said, “There is no one who loves life more than the aged.”

Song Young-eon, Editorial Writer, youngeon@donga.com