Age seems so not-important to me.
Birthdays are important. very. but not age.
So much so, when someone asks me how old I am, it takes me a moment or two to recall the number… not because I have such poor memory, because for me age is a ‘factor’ only for a very few things in life. like:
1. when do you enrol your child in school. I don’t believe in forcing baby geniuses into grade 1 at age 4! you need to think hard and long about the minimum age for a child to enter the school system. especially the Indian system.
2. when is it ok to start having sex. even for an adult, the first sexual encounter can turn out to be traumatic or overwhelming. so there is no way a 12 or 14-year-old is ready for it. you need to think about your age… are you quite ready to end your childhood or adolescent for crappy sex?
3. age at which to give birth to a child. you can’t be 13. you can’t be 50. though both are common. having a child is not about you alone… what role are you going to plan in the child’s life?
Barring these 3 situations, age has little or nothing to do with who you are and what you do in life.
My dad studied law when he was 50, and on retiring from a bank, began his practice at 60. At 75 he is busier than most people I know. Age for him is at best a reason to cry off social functions, and at worst an inconvenience due to frailer bones!
Still I hear 40- and 50-year-old folks talking about how old they are! About how they’re done with more than half their life.
There are people to whom I dread posing the greeting: “How are you?”
Because, what will follow is a long stream of depressing things…
“I am getting fatter, my back hurts, my boss sucks, my teenager is beyond control, did I mention I am getting fatter?, my husband doesn’t understand me, I am getting old, my life is boring…”
Give me a break, unless you are living in Darfur, there must be some joy in your life? There must be something good on TV that made you laugh? A book that got you thinking of the good things in life? A friend who makes you feel good, a dress you bought that you love…
There are people who claim to have so many ailments, they could single-handedly demonstrate Gray’s Anatomy!
Here is a tip: When someone says “How are you?”, it’s a greeting, not an invitation to complain.
My mum at 67 lives the most vibrant life. She has an ischemic heart, high BP and diabetes… but there is never a reason good enough for her to turn down a chance to socialise or travel. There is never a reason for her not to don her best cottons and a dab of max factor powder to go on a jaunt with her siblings. There is never a reason good enough for her to blame her ailments and not enjoy life. Age for her just happens to be. Masha’allah!
And then I have this dear friend. Her husband cheats on her all the time. She has a whole load of hormone-related problems, she can’t practice the trade she trained in because of allergies, she has little in terms of savings… but ask her how she is doing, and she always says “Great V! Smashing. The kids and I just returned from the beach/ we are on our way to the park…”
So during those self-indulgent moments when I wish to mope around, or worry about the future, I remind myself of all that is there to see, to experience to enjoy… and that’s when the 4th factor about age worries me… how much can I pack into this lifetime?