I just turned forty five today.
That number is considered by many as exactly halfway through life. And I did stop and reflect about how I feel, having reached that milestone.
It feels no different, truth be told.
Life, so far, has been a very interesting journey – a very agreeable, equitable one. Life, like it is meant to be, has taken me on straight paths at times and around very convoluted circles at many others. There have been times when the roads seemed paved, smooth enough to send things whizzing down the fast lane and there have been times when the road has been bumpy enough to leave me rattled and exhausted.
What I did realize though, as I stopped to introspect, was the fact that life is indeed a great teacher. What it does, through the experiences it puts us through, is increase awareness. Through increased awareness, comes change – a change in attitudes, perspective. As attitudes and perspectives change, it seems to automatically bring with it, a sense of freedom – a freedom that comes from acceptance, peace and tolerance. It does bring about the realization that life is pretty much what we make it. We’ve been dealt a hand, how we use those cards is totally up to us. What life also does, in its own inimitable way, is deliver lessons in humility. As maturity sets in with a change in attitudes and perspective, as we get more tolerant and accepting, humility slips in somewhere along the way, quietly, very true to its name.
Humility, which is such an important component in life. Youth often confuses humility with timidity. Once upon a time, I did too. But like I said earlier, life does teach you a thing or two. And this was one very important lesson that life imparted me too. Once upon a time, the brashness of my youth would have said “humility is nothing but debasing yourself”. Over the years, life has taught me that humility is nothing other than maintaining our own pride about who we are, what we are and what we’ve achieved in life – maintaining that sense of pride without arrogance, without conceit, without a feeling of superiority.
A decade back, what people thought about me or would think about me did mean a lot to me. I now realize that it is no longer the case. Somewhere along the way, I’ve realized that I’m no longer concerned about what people think of me or say or talk about me. As long as my conscience is clear at the end of the day, I’m at peace with myself and the world around me.
To be honest, I’m more at peace with myself now than I’ve ever been before in my life. I’ve stopped being analytical and critical about many things, in many different situations. In that sense, the process of learning is still very much on. I don’t get my knickers in a knot over situations that I know are totally beyond my control. I find myself much calmer, much more focused. There is no longer that need to cram as much as one can, into one day because life is whizzing past.
Of late, I have sensed this need to consciously ‘slow down’ – to learn to slow down, if I may use that term. Life has whizzed past, kids have grown up and I am indeed now sensing the need for more of a ‘me’ time. Just quiet time, during which to put my feet up and do something I’ve always wanted to indulge in. This has, of late, nudged me towards spending more time nurturing the creativity that’s been hidden somewhere in there. I never really acknowledged it earlier. Now, I do. I never used to give in to that need to just curl up with a sketch book, a pen or a pencil and just give vent to creative urges. Now, I do. More importantly, I’m glad I do.
The forties, I must say, have been full of pendulum moments in terms of the kids. It has alternated from feelings of absolute bliss and pride at their accomplishments and at the kind of people they are growing up to be on the one hand and on the other hand, there are moments when I feel they are growing up too fast. “Let go,” was something I’d told myself many years back that I’d need to learn and I have, to an extent.
As I stand on the said cusp of time today, I can only say that the human mind is pretty much like a treasure chest. A box full of memories from the years gone by, little snippets of conversation, pictures etched onto one’s mind, aromas and fragrances even. I do now realize how much I hang on to them within the deep recesses of my heart and mind.
This morning, as I left home to get to work, I met parents of good friends downstairs and they rushed over to wish and bless me. My mom called from Bombay, to wish me. I find these filling me with a sense of joy and well being. These are times when realization hits home as to how much of a space in our lives, our parents, our elders continue to fill. They are irreplaceable and I do realize that we can never have enough of them.
As I looked at my picture later on Facebook, I did notice the wrinkles, the laugh lines around my eyes. I do notice those little crinkles around my mouth and my eyes. Each and every time I notice one of those wrinkles, I remember to thank that Universal Force. For, those wrinkles remind me of the times when life has made me laugh. They remind me of times when I’ve had the sheer luxury of laughter, for, life has indeed taught me that there are many in this world who do not have that luxury . Those little wrinkles – yes, they are my laugh lines and yes, I carry them around with pride.
All of forty five today, I don’t stake claim to have understood life in all its totality. I guess one never will but I’m kind of beginning to accept how this whole wheel turns. I don’t fret and fume or stress myself out over the little things, probably because I’m at an age where I’m distinctly aware that things like good health, joints and limbs that listen to your instructions and do as you ask them to, having physical senses in working condition – are all things that cannot really be taken for granted anymore. In that sense and lots more, the bigger picture takes precedence over the small little things that used to bug me, earlier on. Fretting over little things don’t seem to appear anywhere on my priority lists anymore and in turn, it has made life a lot easier.
These are indeed the quieter years of life and I welcome the quiet and peace with open arms. I am blessed with a beautiful, wonderful family who mean the world to me and then some. I am in a profession that I care deeply about and enjoy thoroughly, a profession that takes a lot out of me yet is so fulfilling and gratifying. I have a whole bunch of friends who care about me, there have been a lot of old friends I’ve reconnected with over the past years. There have been numerous instances in my life when I’ve felt the hand of the Universal Force in my life. What more can I ask for ?
So, every evening, at the end of the day, when I find myself at home just being ‘me’, doing what I feel like doing, surrounded by people I love and who love me, having spent the day in a profession that I love and care about, two kids who alternate between driving me mad and making me proud, I realize that I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
If that’s a sum total of the first forty five years of my life, as I stand on the cusp today, I’d just say “Bring on the next forty five”. Let’s do this !
Gauri dons many hats. Of a wife, a mom, a teacher and more. Apart from working as a full time English teacher in Hong Kong, she also raises and nurtures two children. Her family means the world to her and life is a happy roller coaster ride. She blogs at http://tiny-tidbits.blogspot.hk/. Originally intended as a means to preserve memories for posterity, Tiny Tidbits now plays host to a wide range of issues, thoughts, musings, raves and rants.