Image : 4.bp.blogspot.com via Google.com
Thoughts do have this tendency to turn inwards more often, especially when one is in ones mid-forties. I mean, forty plus years of life experiences have to provide for a rather myriad range of experiences – with all the goods the bads and the in betweens, all factored in and accounted for. My thoughts too have been turning inward and of late, realisation is beginning to sink in more clearly than ever before. The fact that there are so many things I should be thankful for. If one were to do the Math, it puts me smack in the middle of Middle Age, starting today. But like the saying goes “Growing Old is Mandatory, Growing Up is Optional”. Ask the Nutty Siblings. They’d probably vouch for the fact that their mad mom is just as mad as ever – even as she starts the journey towards 45.
Life has been an interesting equation so far and it continues to be so. It has indeed been a very satisfactory sojourn with its veritable ups and downs, the plateaus and the highs, the mad moments and the eerily sane ones, the sweet and the bitter sweet. Life has played its tricks with me at times, making things seem like an unending puzzle that just gets more and more complex just as one things one’s solved the mystery but on the other hand life has also handed me enough number of straight paths to send things whizzing on the fast lane, making it seem pretty much like riding an automobile at breakneck speeds on one of the freeways in the Land of Oz. In its own inimitable way, life has indeed taught me much.
As one grows older (see, I’m really trying to convince myself here), what I feel is a growing sense of self-awareness. With an increasing sense of awareness, comes the need to change. It could be a change in terms of attitude, change in terms of how we feel towards a particular situation or in a much broader sense, a change in perspective. I find myself trying to look for the Dr.Jekyll side in people rather than the Mr.Hyde bit. Well, it’s not particularly easy when you find the Mr.Hyde persona staring at you in the face and leering but yeah, it is a start towards trying to be less judgmental. Strangely enough, this change in attitude is slowly starting to make a difference. A freedom of choice, truth be told – to either feel more peaceful by focusing on the positives or get horribly worked up by focusing on the negatives. That does however, in no way mean a certificate for people to try and smack me in the face (or wherever else, for that matter). That just doesn’t cut it. I still have way too much fire left in me to let stuff slide, beyond a point J. Just saying.
People say maturity sets in with age. Oh well ! I’m not so sure. If maturity means not flying off the handle at the drop of a hat, yes, the years indeed seem to have mellowed me in that respect, somehow. How and when it happened, I know not but it does take a lot more to get me all worked up, angry, screaming, foaming and frothing at the mouth and all that. Guess it’s probably the senility setting in. I mean, something probably makes me angry but I forget that I have to get angry. Yeah maybe. Well, now who says senility is bad huh ? It’s working for me. I ain’t complaining. I would probably go as far as to say that a bit of mellowness has indeed infused itself into my spirit over the years and helped me metamorphose into a errr…. better person (for lack of a better word). Ask the immediate family – am sure they’ll vouch for it. They wouldn’t dare defy that now, would they ???
Oddly enough, I do find little itsy bitsy things making me happier and bringing about a much deeper sense of satisfaction than the same things probably would have, say twenty years back. Early today morning, as I sipped my coffee, I sighted the full moon (well it did look full to me – I wasn’t wearing my glasses) and it filled me with an inordinate sense of joy. Yeah maybe I’m getting old but what the heck – if something like a full moon can fill me with a sense of joy and all that’s well with this world of ours, I’ll take it.
Somewhere along the way, humility seems to have sneaked in and made itself a party of my psyche as well. The younger generation might well confuse humility for timidity, just as I would have a couple of decades ago. But like I said earlier, life has its own way of teaching you things. For all you young ones out there, humility is nothing other than maintaining our own pride of what we are and what we’ve achieved in life – maintaining that sense of pride without the arrogance, conceit or a misplaced sense of superiority. I know I know that’s one super confusing definition. Well, it was meant to be. So go ahead and chew on it. You’ll figure it out by the time you reach the number I’m at, right now ;-).
If there is one thing I’ve always maintained, it was that I would age with grace. I was never gung ho about fighting the ageing process. Have never considered plastic surgery and won’t . That said, a tattoo sure is on my wish list and I do hope to get that done soon. Haven’t given much thought to the specifics though – I wouldn’t want something that starts out looking like a butterfly wing end up looking like a dinosaur’s wing. Get what I’m saying ??
I notice new silvers in my hair almost every day (no – I don’t count them !) and I do carry the silvers in my hair and the laugh lines around my eyes, with pride. Those wrinkles, those little crows feet that crinkle around my eyes when I laugh just serves as a reminder of how good life has been to me, for having given me the sheer luxury of laughter, for having given me countless opportunities to throw my head back and laugh.
The last time I’d been to the hairdresser a month or so back, he’d asked me if I wanted the greys in my hair, covered. “I quite like my grey hairs” I remember saying to him and I think I scarred him for life. I still remember that look of total shock when he heard me say that and I swear to god he actually took a couple of steps backward and squinted at me. Either he thought I was stark, raving mad or he was just trying to make sure I wasn’t some alien in human garb. Those silver strands in my hair, to me, are precious because they serve to remind me of the number of times I’ve worried about things – about the children, about the family, about the world in general. They are worries that have stemmed out of love and caring. So yes, every single time I look at the silvers in my hair, I choose to think of them as a gift that life has conferred on me – for having lived and loved.
There are some broad strokes to being in my mid-forties that others in the same age bracket would probably associate with and agree. Things like being healthy, being fit take on a totally different connotation when one is in the throes of middle age, if I may say, than the casualness with which these things would have been dismissed in youth. Good health and fitness are definitely appreciated as more than just a ‘given’, halfway through the forties.
The older I grow (chronologically, of course not mentally) the more I realize how much more there is, to learn. It just serves to deepen that feeling that I’ve always carried around as one of life’s mottoes “Learning is a lifelong process”. Things can’t be farther than that, in terms of truth. Youth does not let people easily admit that they don’t know something but with age, I find those barriers steadily breaking. I have no qualms in admitting that I don’t know something and am totally comfortable learning and striving to find out more. I just learnt whilst having a casual conversation with Pecan the other day, how little I actually know (or remember) about Indian history. A decade back, I’d probably have been mortified. Not really now. If I don’t know something, I don’t know it. When equations get simpler like that, it makes life a whole lot easier. He’s taken on the role of a mini history teacher in my life and that’s working pretty good .
Learning is indeed a continuous process, as evidenced by my attempts at learning to “let go”. The Nutty Sibs are indeed growing up fast and every now and then, I have to curb that need to tell them what to do or what not to do. It is a learning process for me to accept and act upon the fact that they can take care of themselves, to a reasonable extent now. There is a little part of me that does acknowledge the fact that it is just a few more years before Macadamia and Pecan spread their wings and fly the nest. I’m not at that level of readiness yet. That’s going to take some more time to swallow and as of now, it has been filed away under “we’ll cross the bridge when we come to it”.
I have an absolutely beautiful, wonderful family that mean the world to me and then some. I am fortunate enough to be in a profession I care deeply about. Life has also brought me in touch with a whole load of friends in all nooks and crannies of this planet we call our home. I’ve reconnected with a lot of old friends and family members over these past few years and it does leave me with a very warm, fuzzy feeling.
So far, the forties have indeed been kind to me and couple of ladies I admire tremendously have reiterated time and again that the fifties are pretty much nirvana. I know there is always that feeling of dread as one leaves one decade of life behind and enters another.
To all the young ones out there who stare at the forties in trepidation, I speak from personal experience when I say “Don’t fear getting older – anticipate it, enjoy it !” The view from up here is pretty much fabulous :-).