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Well-aging learned from lives of ancestors

Posted October. 25, 2014 03:32,   


‘Autumn rain falling onto autumn leaves/The sound touches my old and ailing heart./It vibrates my bones./While thinking my late father/I am listening to the sound of autumn rain./Father, who had fingernails looking similar to mine/Is now sitting next to me as a ghost./Autumn rain onto autumn leaves, the sound of autumn rain!’

(Poem titled ‘Sound of Autumn Rain’ written by Seo Jeong-ju in 1991)

Seventy six year-old poet with pen name of Mi-dang (1915-2000) felt deep loneliness. What had grown him was ‘mostly the wind.’ However, the poet had a great loneliness at his old days.

Lee Eek with pen name of Seong-ho (1681-1763) lamented being old saying, “I doze off at daytime and can’t sleep at night. Tear does not come out when I cry but I weep when I laugh. I remember the things that happened 30 years ago, but I forget the impending things. I eat meat but nothing goes to my belly since every meat pieces get stuck between my teeth.”

Everyone becomes old. This book contains the ‘wisdom of being old’ gathered from lives of the ancestors. Old paintings in the book give pleasure to the eye.

The wisdom of old age is to lower oneself and give up greed. Toegye Yi Hwang (1501-1570) had only two meals a day. He had side dishes only made of radish, eggplant and seaweed in most cases. King called Nong-am Lee Hyeon-bo (1467-1555) to return to the politics dozens of times, but the old scholar never be bothered after retirement from the government post. Cheong-um Kim Sang-heon (1570-1652), who became a captive by the Chinese Qing Dynasty at the age of 70 and returned home at the age of 75, had seclusive life to keep fidelity and integrity. Most of wise ancestors had followed orders of the sky and the earth, and drew their last breaths in a comfortable manner.

In most cases, benevolent people enjoyed a long life. The average lifespan of 27 kings in Joseon Dynasty was 46 years, but clean and incorrupt government officials (219 people) had a long life of 69 years. Kings of Goryeo Dynasty had an average life of 42.3 years, but Buddhist monks enjoyed long lives, 70.2 years in average.