DAVID WALL HAS RECENTLY graced these pages with a couple of reflective articles to do with growing old, both of which I have found most interesting.
Reflection and re-evaluation of one’s beliefs and interests seems to be a natural part of the ageing process. It comes at the confluence of a lifetime of learned wisdom and prejudices and the realisation that we are mortal after all.
In essence it is a sort of working-out of what is important in life and what is mere dross and trivia. It is amazing how, upon examination, the latter outweighs the former.
Reflection is not an exacting or concise process and sometimes it takes time to evolve. Half the time it is not even a conscious thing.
Sometimes it makes itself evident because of some sort of catalyst. When that happens, you realise that what might seem like a sudden change in attitude has, in fact, been unconsciously fomenting for many years.
It is a time in life when some people abandon often long cherished ideals. Suddenly these ideals do not seem to be able to stand up to scrutiny anymore and the best thing to do with them seems to be to cut them loose and abandon them.
This whole reflective process makes a mockery of the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but in this case it is often too late and when we try to explain it to the young they just ignore us.
One of the ways the phenomenon manifests itself is by grumpiness. Everyone is familiar with grumpy old men and women but not everyone realises that it is caused not so much by weariness, aches and pains or intolerance as by the process of reflection.
Many of us have had abiding interests in life that we have carried along the road of experience with us. We have occasionally ditched some or modified or combined others as we went along but in the end we have arrived with a core of them tucked away in our heads.
For a lot of us who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea that country became one of these abiding preoccupations.
After independence in 1975 we felt a pride in the way the country had apparently found its own two feet but as the years went by that outward pride slowly turned into an inward defensiveness.
Our faith in the country and the people was sorely tested and we wondered whether our peers who had turned away in 1975 and got on with their new lives without a backward glance were the sensible ones.
Now that many of us are reaching that reflective age we are starting to wonder whether a vibrant and progressive Papua New Guinea is one of those ideals that need to be abandoned.
Many of us have become weary of making excuses for Papua New Guinea.
Of late, the rank stupidity and intransigence demonstrated over the Parliament House carvings is acting as the catalyst. In the background is the accumulation of Papua New Guinea’s inability to deal with corruption, social equity and the care of its people.
Sometimes when people say to us, “You used to work in Papua New Guinea didn’t you?” there is a temptation to reply, “Yes, but I’m over it now!”