Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Forties – as crazy as your teens

Today I read a strange news, an interesting 43-year-old NASA astronaut turned nuts over an extra marital affair. To me it seemed all a part of the craziness of being 40.

Right, so I have turned 40, like all of us eventually do and have. At one time when I was eighteen, it was better to be dead than the big 4 and 0. It’s a strange age ain’t it? Death looming somewhat abstractly ahead. But, that is not the worry, it suddenly hits you - there is limited time ahead for living your life on the edge.

Edge walking is something we kind of did somewhere between the misspent youth and the time we settled into our daily grind of earning a living and bringing up a family. Then before you knew it, well-cushioned middle age arrives. You were anyway brought screaming and kicking into your 30s, but there was hope that by the time 40 would arrive, most of all that had to be achieved would be. Of course, life is never like that, because what you want to achieve is so abstract in any case. You now know that time is suddenly too short. There are mountains to climb, adventures to finish, books to write, discoveries to be made, money to be made and things that have to be done, they are so defined in your head. And, it is so difficult to undefine yourself.

In all this, there is a teenage hunger for freedom. Only at 40 it is more focused, you know what you want your freedom from. This freedom is usually a break from the past, the straitjacketed lines that you’ve drawn around yourself. It is a freedom to do your own thing…be your own person. And this quest, sometimes leads you to very interesting and unsheltered territories. Now there is no one but your belief and faith that keeps you going. The lucky ones find their guide that gives them the courage to surge ahead. The not so lucky ones keep searching…

Looking around I saw this was the age of the riskiest changes. People leaving jobs, with little or no security to hold on to, relocating in bigger-badder cities, traversing dark tunnels fully aware that a sudden train could kill them instantly, riding motorbikes through highways in the middle of the night, walk the ledges of deep crevices - some have affairs doomed to die even before they are really born, others inject botox. Everyone has their own hunt for that edge.

The good thing is most of us are smart enough to deal with it. Those who are not, once again get into trouble, just like teenagers, and this time there is no one to say, “Hey they are just acting their age!” Because by now you just need to know better.

1 comment:

Arun said...

Everything of what we do seems to boil down to this - we somehow want to negate the fact of encroaching death, or find a way to be completely completely comfortable with the fact. Neither of the two ever happens.

When someone meets us after we've spent a month in the gym or had the latest Botox injection, they're apt to remark "You look so young!"

What they really mean to ask is "Weren't you scheduled to die around the time that I am? Who d'ya think you're fooling?"