Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Twilight Reflections – 5

Time, energy and money

Now that the psalmist’s ancient prediction that “the days of our years are three score and ten” no longer holds true for many of us – after all even the King of England and our President had both survived in good health to their early 70s before they were even able to commence their current jobs – I realised that we need a new measurement of life span.

I personally believe that the lives of 21st century people can be divided into three stages – or Three Ages.

The first stage, from birth to 30 years, can be looked upon as the Age of Youth – when most of us are growing up, going to school, commencing employment and starting our families. This is the period when we have plenty of Energy and plenty of Time – but very little Money.

The next three decades, from the age of 30 to 60, can be considered the Period of the Middle Ages. By then we are (hopefully) working hard and earning wealth to a greater or lesser degree, our families are growing up, we are being looked upon as responsible members of society. This is the period when we have enough Energy to do things and adequate Money to spend – but sadly at this stage, because we are working so hard and are so caught up in the duties of responsible householders, we don’t have enough Time to spend our Energy and Money.

The final tricennium – from 60 to 90 years – is when most of us (unless we are British kings, American presidents or Sri Lankan politicians) have retired from full time work. The children have grown up, we have achieved (if we have been lucky) most of what we hoped to achieve in our careers and we no longer have to wake up early and take the bus or train or car to work. This is the time which we have been looking forward to and for which we have been saving up during the past many decades.

Unfortunately, by the time we reach this third period of our lives, when we should be having Money and plenty of Time, we find that we are running short of Energy! And even more sobering is the awareness that, although we have the potential to make it to 90, we keep seeing in our own contemporaries that (sooner than we expect) Death, that necessary end, will come when it will come.

Having entered the Third Age myself, I have been coming to terms with this changing balance of Time, Energy and Money – and trying to ensure that my twilight years are spent as happily and healthily as I can.

So I was quite pleased to make a serendipitous discovery while browsing through a local bookshop a few weeks ago. I came across this little book called Cheat Sheets for Life by Ayesha Ratnayake, which contains a wealth of information – broken down into easily absorbed nuggets and snippets that provide insights to health and happiness. It will certainly prove useful to readers in all Three Ages of Life.For those like me in the Third Age, I found a few valuable bits of advice that I can share with you.

Once we stop regular work, we often lose the social network that we had through work. Now social connection is an important ingredient for wellbeing – so we need to make sure we stay connected. Regular contact with at least ten friends has been shown to significantly boost happiness – so keeping in touch with pals, joining a group if we need to and accepting social invitations is important. Sharing reminiscences and happy memories have been shown to generate good feelings and positive emotions.

And we need to remember to exercise regularly. Just half an hour of exercise – whether we walk, swim or dance doesn’t matter – is essential for mental and physical health. Exercising in nature is even better – as is exercising in a group and/or exercising with motivating music. Not only is exercise good for our overall health and wellbeing, it keeps our joints and muscles in good shape.

I believe that all of us who have entered this Third Age have a responsibility to make sure that we do all we can to maintain our mental, physical and social wellbeing.

After all, we are living in the evening of our lives in a country where we can wake up in the morning and then say to ourselves –“Here I am. It is good to be alive – and this is the place where I ought to be!”

This article is reproduced from my monthly column in the Sunday Times.


3 comments on “Twilight Reflections – 5

  1. Roger Thiedeman
    May 15, 2023

    “Amen” to all that you – and Ayesha Ratnayake – say!


  2. Ramesh Abayasekara
    May 15, 2023

    Agree with your distribution of ages Sanjiva, although a good proportion of us I think have extended the 30 to 60 to 70!


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This entry was posted on May 14, 2023 by in Health Matters, Reminiscences.



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