BY BELISARIO RIGHI
Self-portrait - Painting by Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt
It's three-quarters in the morning. I just woke up. Strangely, I slept four hours straight. Which is quite rare for me. I get up. I don't want to stay in bed to steal, from what remains of my time, another hour or two of sleep that I don't need. After all, today is a special day. I am seventy-five years old. An important milestone. Will the next eighty be? Maybe! When you get old, you change your way of thinking. As Milarepa we have left everything behind us, but have we gained liberation? Have we freed ourselves from doubt? Could we bask in the inner smile of the Buddha, of the Sublime? We no longer struggle our minds with existential themes, trying to understand who we are and where we will go, if we then go somewhere. If we have not been able to give answers to these questions today, why continue to ask questions that cannot be solved? With old age we now think only in terms of time. We realize that our virtual youthful eternity no longer exists. The river of our existence is not immutable like the river of Vasudeva, which, while perpetually renewing its water, always looks the same, at its origin and mouth. We have changed, in substance and in appearance and we are not sure to find, like the river, the embrace with the sea, its All. Our only certainty is the past. There is no future ahead of us, we know it and for this reason we no longer have the yearning desire to learn and have new experiences. We read books that have already been read, we see films that have already been seen, we listen to music that has already been listened to. We spend our precious hours in safe attitudes. We don't want to take unnecessary risks. As you get older, you don't get wiser, just wiser. We are not looking for new faces. We strive to remember those we have already had before our eyes. We want to rediscover, with the senses of the mind, a lost smile, a word heard, an emotion felt. Retracing the labyrinths of the past becomes a sweet habit that satisfies just enough not to make us feel thirsty for knowledge and disposes us well towards the rest of our journey. In a universe in constant motion we yearn to become fixed stars, no longer subject to extraneous kinematics. Becoming has ceased to interest us. Rather, we want to consolidate ourselves, strengthening ourselves with what we have learned, what we know, regardless of making new discoveries. It is said that in the Bible, every form of moral and civil ethics is expressed, that no existential conjecture exists outside of it, and then there are those in their lives who have learned everything they need from its pages without resorting to other knowledge . So let our past be our Bible. In it we must look for the answers to all the unsolved questions and if we do not find these answers, it will be useless to look for them elsewhere, because we are what we have been. Funny what old age is. While the body relentlessly disintegrates, the spirit is enriched from its rubble and flies towards freedom. Perhaps it will be objected that in order to be free spirits it is not necessary to grow old, but going around perpetually in circles is of little use if you do not know where to go. Old age is a must. There is no escape. This is why, forced to reflect, one can, if not explain, at least make sense of one's existence.