Ever heard someone say “Age is just a number?” Don’t believe them. Age is a number, yes but not “just” a number. A few hundred years ago, when people asked you “ASL?”, you couldn’t just say “14/F/Bang” because 14 was never a good enough age on the internet. You had to be “18/F/Bang” for anyone to remotely continue a conversation with you. Sure, it would usually be with a guy who’d eventually creep you out with a dick pic but atleast that made you feel like you belong. Early teens is an awkward phase to be in because you are battling all these adult like feelings in a kid’s body and it always feels like no one gets you. Fast forward a decade, and you start feeling the exact opposite – battling kid like feelings in a fully grown adult’s body and again, it feels like no one gets you.
For the first time in several years, I wasn’t nervous about my birthday. I didn’t pull out my notebook and make crazy lists of people who wished me. I didn’t mind that I wasn’t woken up by any midnight calls. I didn’t expect anything from the husband, who is forever nervous in the days leading up to 10th June every year. So, it was pleasantly surprising to see that he’d spent whole of 9th sitting and writing 13 blogposts for me (I keep bugging him to do that, in case you thought he was being creative!). All I wanted to do was have a quiet day with no grand agenda or unnecessary drama because I wanted nothing to remind me of raging.
Within the last one year, I have grown by several years. Gaining new relationship status does that to you. Your age doubles when you have a child or atleast, it feels like. You could go to an ex lover and he’ll probably mistake you for your grandmother. Sometimes when a stranger walks upto me and tells me that I’m just being cynical, I go back and ask my old pair of jeans. They are stretch and so I don’t entirely trust them. Then, I go and ask my husband if he’ll buy me Olay anti ageing cream and he promptly says yes (because his instincts are trained to say yes for anything over the last 7 years), but quickly comes back to check if it was a trick question. So, thank god, maybe I am indeed just being cynical.
Every time I begin a new decade, it feels like I have started a new descent. This starts with a phase of denial followed by bitter acceptance. At 10, I said good bye to frocks. At 20, I said goodbye to innocence. At 30, I am saying good bye to a 26” waistline (just kidding, I am sure i’ll be 26” again, soon!). But hey, I am saying hello to unwanted wisdom and knee pain. What more could I ask for?
P.S – This ageing thing clearly doesn’t suit me.
As I walked out of my office this evening, I started thinking about how I want to organise my evening once I reach home in order to make the most of my time. I wanted to clearly segregate the time I spent cooking, cleaning up, etc. from the time I spent with Berry. The context switch was so instantaneous, as if I exited one stage and got onto another. Until today, I was never conscious of the many roles I play everyday – mother, wife, employee, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, blogger, marriage broker auntie, friend, etc. I think it’s so easy to lose oneself while you are too busy playing all these roles that it’s important to be able to distinguish between them very clearly.
For the last two weeks, I have been unable to spend quality time blogging and having left that part of me incredibly dissatisfied, I can feel the pressure trickling down onto other parts of me. So, I try to set little goals for every part of me so each of them try to do their best to inspire the other parts. Okay, I know you think I’m insane now and I don’t blame you because sometimes, I think so myself. I think we are all constantly finding ways to make our lives more meaningful in ways that we feel like we are headed somewhere or are striving to get “better” even though, deep down, we know all of this is quite insignificant in the grander scheme of things (at a multiverse level).
As a child of 8 or 9, I remember lying down on my terrace and looking up at the stars and thinking how insignificant my problems (not studying for the test next day level) in life were. I remember thinking how silly we were to take our stupid little lives so seriously (of course not the fact that we actually had lives), trading happiness and simplicity for drama in the name of “meaning”. It gave me solace to let go, I enjoyed letting myself feel insignificant, yet today, I try to make my life a bit more complicated than it actually is because I want to feel like it’s worth living.
I’ve gone a full cycle in exploring if I’ve aged exponentially or I’m plain depressed to entertain such morbid thoughts ever so often, but I haven’t found any answers yet. The fact is we all eventually die and until then, we want to justify why we haven’t died yet.
I am not religious and hence, don’t know very much about it. Having been raised a Hindu, I have been exposed to some of the popular beliefs and philosophies. And much like other religions, Hinduism also encourages good behaviour through incentives of freedom from re-birth. As a kid, I always wondered why not being born again was a good thing because pretty much after every unit test, I wanted to die and be re-born to do better in the previous test. Then, my grandparents would explain that life is full of ups and downs and the downs drain you so much that you wish you didn’t have to deal with it and these are times when you feel the ups are worth sacrificing. Still, I never understood because for a regular kid my age, how bad could the downs be? Terrible marks in a unit test followed by a couple of days of lectures by parents and that’s it. Thanks to our pathetic short term memories as kids that one PT period (physical training) would wipe out any worries we may have had!
But something about growing up makes your downs seem downer and ups seem non-existent that we start to wonder if the ups are worth sacrificing. When I was 15 or 16, I remember being very attached to a couple of friends in school who I had a fall out with and I remember being so hurt by the whole ordeal that I’d vowed to myself to never get that attached to any friend ever again. I proudly called it my detached attachment move (Lol!) and so, I give myself credit for having peaked quite early emotionally and maybe even spiritually. And also, recently, I was talking to a friend who is visiting her grandparents and she told me about how her grandmother is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that her husband has started to become senile and his signature, which is a huge part of one’s identity, has changed beyond recognition. While my friend’s grandmother’s sentiment is perfectly understandable, it makes me wonder why we have such a hard time letting go.
We end up becoming so addicted and intertwined with partners (and naturally so!), that we begin to alienate the rest of our world including ourselves which existed even before this partner came into our lives. Its the downs of losing any part of such comforting partnership that makes the ups of having it worth sacrificing. This is probably why so many people are afraid to commit to long term relationships..be it with a lover or a child. Not that people who have committed are any less afraid, but they keep pretending to themselves that the ups overcompensate for the downs and make it worth it. This is because we know that no matter what happens, life goes on irrespective of if we can be happy or not.
This is not very different from our attachment to materialistic things. We know what penury does to us, but this doesn’t stop us from binge drinking, eating or shopping away to glory like there’s no tomorrow while some of us are so afraid of the downs, that we sacrificing our ups (basic needs included), just to be sure that we have the strength to cope with the downs. So, extrapolating this, ups such as “birth” or gift of life suddenly starts seeming a bit daunting as one grows older enduring what seems like more than a fair share of downs. I don’t mean that one should end their lives when the downs get downer, but all I’m saying is that striving for freedom from re-birth or what’s popularly called Moksha or Nirvana, isn’t such a bad thing because most of us really suck at pulling off the detached attachment move lifelong!