Of growing up, growing old and letting go…..
I have no excuses for not having written for such a long time. 3 years to be precise and I can’t even blame writer’s block since I am hardly a writer 🙂 But as I read what I have written previously and I can see that it literally seems like a different lifetime. I still feel very passionately about many things and those things have changed as I have moved through the various phases of my life. I write when I have something to say, something I feel so strongly about, but I just can’t seem to get it out through the spoken word. My head has millions of thoughts that are going through and so writing to me has been about getting those thoughts out of my system – what I can’t say out loud and yet my written words speak so loudly on my behalf.
Of late and ever so often I have been thinking about what my life is all about and what the meaning of my life is. I guess when you hit your 40s you do start to question what you want from your life – after all I am perhaps in the second innings and I want to know what I have to show for it. So much is the conundrum in my head that I even named my Instagram handle (@still_soul_searching), simply putting it my soul searching state of mind. It’s the search for the peace of my soul and the passion to drive my inner being perhaps
While the 40s may have brought out the more confident me, a man who perhaps now realises that you only live once and so Carpe diem, my friends. I now speak my mind and clearly stand up for what is right, no matter the consequences. After all, I want to sleep well at night knowing that I did the right thing. But my life hasn’t got any simpler, and actually does it ever? On the one hand, your children get older and need you less and less and on the other hand, your parents grow older and perhaps need you more and more. Such is the irony of life and makes you wonder how you can be the best parent and also the best son. All the while ensuring that your spouse does not get left behind as you try and juggle what you need to do for those who may need you the most.
We recently celebrated my daughter’s 11th birthday and the more I see her, the more I realise that my little girl isn’t so little anymore. She’s blossoming into a fine young lady with a mind and a life of her own. Not sure where that leaves her old man really !!! But I always knew this would happen. We always wanted for her to be a strong person and making choices and then living through them as well. Even though, sometimes those choices may not be what you may have expected or even not be you. Perhaps one of the greatest joys and also the greatest pain of being a parent is when you can give your children the ability to make their own decisions and in the process, you are not in the final decision that they make. I hope the choices she makes now make her life more wonderful and fulfilling and include everyone around her who are important to her. I cannot make her choose what should be important to her and I can only guide her towards that. But the decision must be her own and I hope she will always remember me as the father who may have guided her but always let her choose. As the father who never forced his views on her – when many a time he may have wanted to scream and tell her to choose him!!!!! I believe in a higher power and I believe in karma and so I believe that it will all come back to us in this lifetime itself. So do your best and don’t hope for the rest. Perhaps it is now the time to let go. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt when we were not her choice but then I put myself in her shoes and go back 25 years or more and think of exactly the choices I made when I was a kid – only now the roles were reversed and I was facing those choices, as perhaps my parents would have done. It’s funny how life comes through a full circle.
In the process, I have become more aware of my parents and their needs, after all they aren’t spring chickens anymore 🙂 They may have too much self-respect to say out loud that they need me – not financially but more emotionally. For me to be there regularly when they want so speak their minds or just hear someone speak theirs. But growing old brings with it, its share of challenges and requirements – both health and well-being and it’s funny how we now have names and explanations for all kinds of medical conditions that we just thought of as symptoms of ‘old age’ when we were growing up. Being forgetful was just what grandparents did at their age when we were kids but now we have all fancy names for such medical conditions. I think I liked it better when life was simpler. When I was the younger one and could look upto someone to guide me through all the tough decisions in life, when I was not the mature one, when I was not the person who everyone looked upto to decide what should be done. When I saw my parents as the guides and not as the ones that needed to be guided. Nowadays I look at my mother and I see an innocent child, a child who gets joys at the smallest of things and who can get upset also at the smallest of things. But just like a child, it is soon forgotten from her memory and she goes back to being the most lovable person I have ever met. As Carl W Buehner has rightly said They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel. Same is with my mother and makes me realise how little it takes to make her happy and while she may not remember what I said, she will never forget how I made her feel. The loving hugs, when I paint her nails or her worries when I am unwell. But I am not her and I don’t completely know how to handle it all the time – I do get confused and do let off steam but it doesn’t get us anywhere. I know she never did that when I was a child and she would patiently make sure that she taught me the right thing, without ever making me feel small. Perhaps I have a long way to go in being a better parent or just a better adult when I connect with my mother and maybe with a lot of others as well. So life is tough and yet life is simple.
I had met a professional once who had very wisely told me that the 40s are the perhaps the most trying times of our lives – on the one hand, our children don’t need us as much and on the other hand our parents start needing us more. It’s how you balance the disappointment of the former with the responsibility of the latter that makes us better adults and more caring and responsible human beings.
I guess in this entire process, I have perhaps grown up a little. Still stumbling my way through managing disappointments in my life, to accepting the choices that my daughter makes to trying to be a better son and sometimes a better parents to my parents. I have been lucky to have a partner who has always been way more mature than her years and someone who will knock some sense into me one way or the other. I guess, somewhere I my heart I know, that with her, I can still be a carefree child sometimes, when it gets too much and she will be there, solid as a rock to pull me through. No one said life would get easier as you went along and maybe I will look back one day to all that life has had to offer and I will smile and remember that I made someone smile after all ‘SOMEDAY YOU WILL JUST BE A MEMORY TO SOMEONE. MAKE SURE YOU ARE A GOOD ONE’.
Beautifully put kaka… I totally agree… life has its teaching phase wise and as we grow older we grow wiser and more mature. I applaud you for being a good son.. a really good father and a great husband.