Being elderly in Vietnam: research in Vietnam, Day 2.

The coffeeshop

Concepts new to you help you see the same world different. There are two concepts I think are universal but not yet explored in relation to becoming older and finally in relation to needing care in some sort.

The first is the The-pleasure-at-being-a-cause” and the second is “feeling-at-home” which I think are interconnected. These concepts have never been applied to growing older. Especially not in the long-term care.

This is very important because I read a lot of text, suggesting that being at home means: living in an environment that looks like when you are young. It misses the point, being at home means that you had the-pleasure-at-being-the-cause of the place. 

And I read a lot of texts in health care and see a lot of behavior in which a trade is made: it is something like: if you give up The-pleasure-at-being-a-cause we will take care of you, according to what we think is good for you. It brings people in a state, yet to be explored as well of alienation, and gives them a trauma-of-failed-influence. 

Although her work is sometimes highly debated, by lack of peer-review for some articles, the American scholar Ellen Langer is as I understood it, even laying out that losing control over your own live is making you feel old and willing to die

This is what I saw myself: If you meet people in their last stages of having some sort of dementia, the loss of any will to power or the pleasure-at-being-the-cause seems to be disappeared completely. They are not even waiting any more for doctor D. 

In my research in Vietnam these are the two concepts I will try to see. It directs my walking around and searching. Some information I read I use. For instance, that you get a pension as a man when you are 62 and when you are woman at 60. To get it, I read, you had to be a real good citizen: working at a company for at least 20 years among others. Pension is not a right but also a way to keep people at their place to make them work. It is also defined as a problem. Having 25% of people older than 60, means stopping the economic growth. 

I don’t want to dive to deep into it, only that I can remember that people were telling me since I was in my twenties that I had to build a pension. It was a fear for most people who were telling this to me that they would lose a secure live at old age. I still remember a Dutch teacher who as a retiree said, maybe I had predictable live, obeying my father’s wish to become a teacher, but it gave me security all my live and a good pension. This brought me to the insight that this teacher had never been able to make his live more adventures and thus never explored all the possibilities in the world. The same goes for paying rent or having a mortgage. People seems to be driven by building up a pension and what I always called are mortgage-driven. I still don’t have a pension, other than the alms the Dutch government is providing me. That is, if I behave, which I will not. The years of danger living are dear to me.

The two concepts are a real value to understand what it means, becoming elderly. The-pleasure-at-being-at-a-cause, was a concept developed by the German philosopher and psychologist Karl Groos. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Groos. He studied children at play and found that they showed an extreme joy when they found out that the same movement they made led to the same result. This pleasure of being the cause is what drives people I think, more than the concept of Nietzsche who thought that the will to power was driving it. That may also be the case but the but The-pleasure-at-being-a-cause might be more positive and more profound finding its foundation is our bodies. 

This is linked to what we call home: the sure and most profound place for most humans. The place where everything can be the result of The-pleasure-at-being-a-cause. And the place maybe of a fight called living together, a fight for who of the partners this will be a place called home. I always ask that, and in most cases one of the persons in this home is saying: I left it to my partner, he/she has a far better taste than I do. This of course is in many ways a mindfuck and bullshit. This speaker just gave up the fight to make this the place filled with things that are the result of being The-pleasure-at-being-a-cause. 

I will explore the concepts, Feeling-at-home and The-pleasure-at-being-a-cause wit the direct contact of the Saigon society where I live now. In old age these concepts are under pressure. Finally, you lose your possibility to make your own home and lose this pleasure-at-being-a-cause. 

This morning I decided not to sit in one of these fancy coffee place but found my way in a small street to a local coffee store, run by an [old] lady, or I think so. I have to elaborate on that [old] as well. She looks old, as I observe the wrinkles in her face and the form of her body. Higher heeps, etc.. Accentuated by the thin typical Asian clothing for older women. Thin linen, with a sort of flower motive, flat colored and mostly a pair of trousers and a shirt with the same motive.

So it is complex. Like most Dutch [old] ladies have very short hair and even colored a shade of purple. As if they already adhere to be part of the group of the elderly. But when I talk to her and look at her, look her in her eyes, she shines like an 18-year-old girl. We make jokes and she takes care of me in a way I would like to be her customer forever. You can always check out, but you can never leave.

In the texts I will place [old] within these parenthesis. To show that it is a word I need to use, without excepting 99% of the meaning it is used for.

This I want us all to keep in mind. Elderly don’t exist. It is a concept also. It is mostly outside, not inside. And I really wonder what I does to a human if he adepts to the concept that is laid upon him or her.

I sit there, she takes care of me and I write this text and read about some government facts. 

As I look around her shop, I see that she still knows the pleasure-of-being-a-cause. This I found all over the world and was maybe the most profound moment to find out that taking care is not a medical concept and an economic concept but a concept of living together. This lady can only run her coffeeshop by having customers. She is taken care of by people that like to drink coffee in her shop. This is care in a very subtle form but very profound.

I remember being Bolivia in the village of Samaipatha, where I lived 3 months with the children. There were several Tiendas. Small shops ran by [old] people. This concept of taking care shocked me in a moment. I came there with this concept of taking care is making it as comfortable as possible like Ellen Langer is saying. If you take away every possibility to take care of yourself, you take away the will to live and reduce a human to a plant.

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