When I’m Seventy-Five

Here is a speech by Dr. Helen Caldicott on Fukushima nuclear disaster and its implication for Taiwan, originally shared by a dear friend of mine who attended the event.

It is a fascinating and equally horrifying tale of how the Japanese government’s attempt to cover-up the whole incident is creating massive hidden issues, such as neglected children under the still growing influence of radioactive waste. Just watch it.

Done? There is another fascinating aspect about the event and here I will briefly go back to the discriminating world of a traditional Japanese male. Dr. Caldicott is 75 years old. Yet she talks and moves dynamically with a force that surpasses that of the student protesters of nuclear power plants. If that’s how I can be when I am 75, I am looking forward to it. Dearly.

Ironically, it is the imminent threat to mankind, especially to the younger generation, that is giving Dr. Caldicott her energy. She is standing up to protect her own grandchildren, first and foremost. She says she is ready to move her grandchildren, living in the US (theoretically far from Fukushima) to Australia when “things” happen. That’s how committed she is about her cause.

Previously, I never saw the point of growing old. Life would be over when you reach the age of 65 (or 64 with a loving wife if you are lucky, according to Sir Paul McCartney), and the rest will be spent on how to disappear painlessly while I am still in charge of myself.

But Dr. Caldicott showed me an extremely precious value of being old: to be truly selfless. I believe everything she does is for the better of the young. Her presence says loudly: I exist for my descendants. Yet that is why she is aging backwards compared to other peeps in her generation who desperately cling to whatever is left in their fortune and look even more older than they are.

How can I be like that? One thing I am sure is to clear up any “neglected agendas” before I get too old. Only then I would be able to dedicate my life to others and be truly happy about it. Guitars I wanted to play, cars I wanted to drive, countries I wanted to go, hobbies I wanted to enjoy, and most importantly people I wanted to love: I must put a closure on them in my mental list, completely.

And therefore, I will be living my life fully, never leaving anything on the side hoping I will “have time when I retire.” There will be no retirement and there is no time to do “my neglected stuff.” I want to devote myself to improve the life of the young. I must enjoy every moment 120% until I “had enough of my life.”

The catchy slogan of “admire old people” is everywhere in this aging society but I do not buy into it. Being admired is nothing compared to being able to admire. I want to work my ass off to admire the young.

  • Prashantha

    I think that which you observed is what I walked away with myself. Her energy and relentless conviction blew me away. It is so rare to see relentlessness in such strong physicality. I loved it when she left her podium and walked up right to the lip of the stage and peered into the audience. We were being watched, not the other way around. Lovely post.

    • http://isaokato.com/ Isao

      Next time (and I truly hope I can make it to next time) please invite me over. I wish I felt that energy directly in close proximity. Each day my to-do or wish list grows but unlike my employed era, today I desire and devour the items. Thank you for bringing us to the attention.

      • Prashantha

        Invite you where? To a talk?

      • http://isaokato.com/ Isao

        Any of those inspiring events and opportunities—I am all ears.