In the British movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Judi Dench plays Evelyn Greenslade, a newly widowed housewife whose house must be sold to pay off her husband’s debts. She goes to India with a group of elderly British characters, whose motives for coming to India are as varied as their eccentric personalities. They choose to spend their retirement years at Sonny’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a home for the “elderly and beautiful,” based on pictures on the hotel’s website. Upon arrival, they find the hotel to be dilapidated and mismanaged. Some of the characters embrace the experience, while others seem determined to be miserable.
While staying at the hotel, Evelyn keeps a blog of her activities. She narrates throughout, to her Day 51 moral at the end:
The only real failure is the failure to try.
The measure of success is how we cope with disappointment, as we always must.
We came here and we tried, all of us in our different ways.
Can we be blamed for feeling that we’re too old to change?
Too scared of disappointment to start it all again?
We get up in the morning. We do our best. Nothing else matters.
But it’s also true that the person who risks nothing does nothing. Has nothing.
All we know about the future is that it will be different. Perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same, so we must celebrate the changes.
Because as someone once said, “Everything will be all right in the end, and if it’s not all right, then trust me, it’s not yet the end.”
I understand Evelyn’s sentiments. Sometimes we feel we’re too old to change. I believed that was the case in my early 50s. I thought nothing would ever change in my humdrum existence. However, at age 54, I went to work abroad in South Korea for the first time ever in my life. From the ages of 55 to 57, I lived and worked in the Sultanate of Oman. I would never have imagined doing such a thing when I was in my thirties and forties, married, raising a family, and doing all the things that were expected of me.
I could have been too scared of disappointment to start it all again. But the life I was living at the time was already a disappointment. What did I have to lose, after all? I couldn’t say about myself that my only real failure was a failure to try. For I did try. I tried, and for better or worse, my life changed …………….
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