Now it seems so long ago, wandering the streets of Arequipa, I sat in an unexpectedly cozy western café. At the back of the hall, leaning against the wall, sat an old, big man. He sat quietly, leaning on a stick, in no hurry, as the men sit on the benches in the streets of Spanish towns. He rumbled and watched the slow-moving life, and I, clearly a stranger, caught his eye. He grabbed mine too. I like older people. Looking at their faces I see the long way they have gone, experienced, lifted, survived.
Since we two were in no hurry, a conversation began after a while. The stranger spoke in English. It turns out that he is the owner of the café, Viktoras, a 94-year-old businessman from Eastern Europe who has lived in Lithuania for a short time and is Jewish. He moved to the United States with his parents before World War II. He graduated from university, defended his dissertation in economics, did research, and later moved to Peru, where he expanded his business, mainly in agriculture. Today, his whole family is here: two sons with wives, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (the latter came to the café after school to socialize with the family).
“I am very tired of living,” Victor says.
It sounded unexpected. I looked at his face in surprise, trying to realize this fatigue. It was so contrary to my own grandfather’s sad, real tears: “I would still like to live… just a bit more.”
I realized his tiredness. It seemed so hard to not only carry yourself, and at the same time to be responsible for a lifetime of crossing Europe, America, to be responsible for ninety-four years of life. Even at this moment, it is seen by the café under his supervision: well-groomed, with excellent desserts and salads, which would enrich any capital of the world. And business, farms – the whole family is provided.
He has the right to fatigue.
When someone in Lithuania now says that they are tired of living, I immediately remember Viktor from Peru. Surprisingly, I hear this from relatively young people.
Tired of life. Where is this fatigue from? What is in that heavy carrier? The burden of responsibility, routine, frustration, resentment, unfulfilled expectations, loss, daily effort, dissatisfaction with oneself.
The opposite of fatigue is waiting. Hope. Children are always waiting for something: first Christmas, then birthday, then Christmas again, and so year after year, until there is less and less waiting.
That I am already writing on this topic, I look at the calendar. I’m reviewing, wondering if I have anything to wait for.
When we hear that someone got tired (from life), we immediately want to do something: resurrect, inspire, give advice, “massage”.
But when you think about it… a person who has come a long way just tired, burned out, sat on a stump to rest. Let him sit, breathe, enjoy peace. Let them take the time. We are not needed.
Dr. Alisa Miniotaitė is a management and leadership expert, founder of UAB ALISA MANAGEMENT LABORATORY, ISM University of Management and Economics, Leadership Program Manager
Commentary is published in the news radio show “Leader’s Dilemma” and news page 15min.lt