We are going through a rough phase globally right now. The entire world is wretchedly surrounded with the omnipresent fright and plight of COVID 19. Though this is a passing phase like 16th century plague or the influenza of 1918, yet the other side of the coin is – this tortuous phase will leave permanent scars on the collective consciousness of human race. The situation is appalling; however, I dare to take your mind off this unfortunate pandemic for a short while and share an interesting and life-changing experience of mine with you.
To start with, I erase 2020 and take you back to 2019. I was an egocentric fool back then and that was why l used to feel stupidly ecstatic on my birthdays. The surprises in the form of flowers, gifts and cards from friends and family had always been very gratifying and awesomely pleasing for me. But everything changed in August 2019! In fact, things changed twice. First, for worse; then, for better and forever.
I woke up anxious and melancholic at the dawn of my last birthday. I reluctantly checked my phone. The thirty-one unread ‘Happy Birthday’ messages peeping from the screen of my mobile didn’t cheer me up. I felt even more nervous. I stepped sluggishly out of my room. There was a delectable and tempting pineapple cake waiting for me on the centre table of my stylishly decorated drawing room. My first thought was to fade away in the thin air so that there wouldn’t be any need to cut the cake. However, I knew fading away was not possible, so I cut the cake trying hard to look exalted, surprised and blissful; but my heart was full with strange and unprecedented gloom. The melodious birthday wishes spontaneously sang by my husband and the lovely card made by my daughter gave me creeps. My phone chimed at that very moment. It was my eldest sister, who was calling me, obviously, to wish me on my birthday. I didn’t take the call and started crying.
What was wrong with me? Why was I feeling so weird on my own birthday?
O. K. Now I think I should spill the beans and tell you the reason of my odd behaviour. And the reason was – it was my 46th birthday. Yes, 46th birthday and my first dive in the grave grey sea of mid-life-crisis! You would think that this kind of crisis generally hit people in early forties but as I told you in the beginning that I had a strain of narcissism in me back then; it took me a few years more to realize that I had entered the-other-half-side of my age.
That morning I felt like my life was over and I had done whatever I could in my life. I was mercilessly tortured by the thought that life would be dull and drab for me now onwards. Nothing new or interesting would happen to me anymore. How would you do anything fun after reaching on the verge of being fifty?
But kudos to human body and mind! They are capable of doing much more than what we think they can!
After a couple of months of trying to endorse and absorb the fact that all the fun and adventure was over for me in life, something happened that transformed my prolonged sulking into newly-found enthusiasm. My perception of truth changed for the second time in 2019. It happened on a family-trip to Pulau Macan – a small island near Jakarta, Indonesia. That time I didn’t know that this mesmerising island would teach me the most valuable lesson of life – to stop counting age in years. It forbade me to be a victim of my own fears and I decided to do snorkelling for the first time in my life.
Yes, I did snorkel for the first time in my life at the age of forty-six.
No doubt, I was initially scared and my immediate answer to snorkelling was ‘NO’, but somehow, I got the courage to do it after multiple requests from my husband and daughter. The snorkelling gear was ready for me. I put the breathing tube in my mouth with trembling hands, clenched my eyes and took a plunge apprehensively in the calm and sparkling turquoise sea. I confess here that I am not a good swimmer. I just know how to swim for the heck of it. The shallow four-feet-deep pool is my limit. Anyhow, the snorkelling equipment made the swimming easier for me. For a few seconds my eyes were tightly closed and I was trying to swim mechanically and methodically.
Oh la la! The miracle happened! I opened my eyes and saw the incredibly beautiful underwater world. Everything around me was unbelievably vibrant, colourful and extraordinarily alive. I was surrounded with florid coral and colourful fish. With every careful stroke of my arms, with every inch of the magnificent sea I covered and with every underwater spectacular wonder I saw; I felt resurrected and rejuvenated. I got my mojo back.
That was the moment when I felt what I had been thinking for last few months was terribly wrong and lame. I learned a very important lesson of life in those few minutes under the sea – life does not stop even after being on the so-called other-half-side of age! Age is not a deterrent for doing new things.
When once the truth embarked upon me, I noticed that a few blessed ones already know this. They are more insightful and pragmatic. They already know the art of living after forties! They believe that life does not end with every passing year of life; rather we become more mature and wiser. We are financially stronger and our responsibilities are comparatively reduced.
Professionally we have reached and achieved whatever we are destined to. Kids have already chosen their career paths. The rat-race, the stress, the chaos and the hectic schedules we have been trapped in during our thirties have loosened on its own. We have time for ourselves. Materialistic goals have been either achieved or lost forever. Ambitions have been either fulfilled or faded forever. We know what we are by the time we hit forties. Finally, we have reached the age when we can acquire a new hobby, a new interest or a new passion. We have been busy till now taking care of career, family and bank-balance, now is the time when everything is on the right track. We can have some me-time.
In nutshell, we can do in our forties what we always wanted to do; but could not ever do. So, buckle up guys! It’s better now than never. Make that bucket list and immerse in action.