In Anyang, most of the senior citizens aren’t the type to stay inside. Except for rainy days, the seniors are outside, meeting with each other to chat and play games or do exercise. Chinese chess (Hanzi – 象棋, pinyin- Xiàngqí), mahjong (Hanzi – 麻將 , pinyin – májiàng), and cards are the most popular games. Seniors congregate in large and small groups on sidewalks, bringing their own folding chairs to sit on. A lot of smiling and laughing happens, except when a lǎowài (foreigner) is taking their photo.
I recently watched Luc Besson’s Sci-Fi movie Lucy. Yes, there is a tie in to the picture above. In Besson’s film, one of the characters says that “Humans are more concerned with having than being.” While I think that is true for most humans on the planet now, it doesn’t apply to most seniors, at least not the ones in Anyang. In their daily lives, the seniors in Anyang focus on being rather than having. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being old — you are invited to simply embrace and enjoy being. In old age, your work life is over, the rat race has ended, and so perhaps the fixation with accumulating material things also ends.