In a matter of a few days my life will witness a sea change. At such times it does perhaps for many like me!
I will turn fifty and will be married for twenty five years. Also with children finding suitable careers and getting on with their lives, my responsibilities as a father are done with.
I well and truly feel free and unchained. I guess many in my situation may feel the same.
Not that I did not enjoy the journey which brought me here.
It was a childhood worth living. I remember playing outside in the narrow gullies near our small apartment right till dusk or till I was literally pulled inside the house. Or learning the Pythagoras theorem for the first time and falling in love with Maths. Or understanding how the elements fired each other up to make compounds which changed the chemistry of the world. Or seeing the steel in my mother’s eyes when she came home and told us of how a senior colleague at her workplace made fun of her when she mentioned that she wants to send her son to IIT and then using that same steel to give shape to my zeal, till I finally went there to study engineering. Or entering the IIT hostel and being called a ‘Bakra’, a butcher’s goat, right at the entrance by an ‘esteemed’ senior and then getting ragged for almost a month, enjoying every moment of it and using those memories to build on the tradition in the coming years. Or even huffing and puffing to pass out of IIT in four years and then joining a prestigious firm to start my career.
It was a youth worth enjoying while spending hard earned money on long bike rides, clothes or even endless parties with friends and then finding myself broke at the end of every month, ready to start all over again. Or being starry eyed every time I got a new girl friend or enjoying the drinks on rocks in a bar while discussing every time the next heart break happened. Puppy love! I was ready for it all the time at the drop of a hat!
Then one fine day in my eagerness to get married I decided to sacrifice my freedom and everything changed for the next twenty five years. From a meandering love struck puppy, I became a tame, pet dog instantly, wagging his tail in her presence and finding my entire world revolving around her Majesty’ graceful presence. In today’ time an arranged marriage is unacceptable to most couples in the world but boy, it worked for me fine! Over the last twenty five years I saw love blossoming for each other in our hearts, a feeling of true companionship and understanding and a deep respect for each other. This when we are and will remain poles apart in many of our believes including in her being a true believer in the ‘creator’ while I consider the ‘creator’ as the creation of a weak and fearful man.
Marriage brings with it parenthood and children are the source of the greatest joys of our lives and also chain us down with endless responsibilities. Responsibilities that we love to fulfill and work hard throughout our lives to live up to. Responsibilities that make us change our paths to align them with our children’s future even if it would amount to compromising on our own dreams and aspirations. Responsibilities that tire us down and drain our energies and yet keep the fire burning alive till our children not only reach the starting blocks of their own careers but also set out to leave their own marks on the sands of time.
Today I am free from all those responsibilities. Today I no longer need to plan for my children and in fact any further unwanted advice on my behalf can only create a road block in their lives besides straining our relationships. Today it is time to detach from their lives, break free and focus on what lies ahead for myself and perhaps to some extent, the soul mate who is ready to journey along ahead.
In ancient times in India, when one reached fifty, one went into what was called the ‘Vanprastha Ashram’. ‘Vanprastha’ meant ‘vana prasthan’ or departing for ‘vana’ or forests and leaving the children alone to manage their own lives. It was not ‘Sanyas’ or total renunciation which started at the age of seventy-five but a stage which reminded the man that his time was up to focus on building a wealth and fortune for himself or his family and it was time to give back. Time to move away from a singular ‘kutumbh’ or family and focus on community building. Time to think more about ‘vasudeva kutumbakam’, the idea of the global village that the world is.
Nothing describes better my state of mind. The need and urge to earn more money is gone. For what and for whom? My own personal needs and that of my spouse are meagre and we can manage in whatever little is available. Anyhow for being rich we do not ‘need’ more but only ‘desire’ less. Anymore time spent on earning extra money, saving it and then leaving it behind after a few more years will only be time wasted in working for items that would not add any value to my life or that of my spouse.
But I am not dead. The fire is alive and I burn with ambition. A desire to do something that I missed doing till now. A desire to be me as I always wanted to be in my life. An actor, a gypsy, a roamer, a community worker, a teacher, a trainer, a writer, a speaker, a ….. The list is endless and so are the aspirations. Also with modern medicine and longer lifeline, the journey ahead could be long enough to live a few more lives in years ahead.
A man at fifty is perhaps at his creative best. It is perhaps the pressures of society and its conditioning that limits us from setting out for new adventures. Nothing stops my soul.
Osho used to say that a child is born with infinite potential and can be anyone and anything that he desires. It is only the society which gives it a name, religion, class, caste, profession, training and conditions him to feel chained and limited. Yet the soul should never forget that it is still infinite and can always draw from deep inside and find new potential.
It is time for ‘Reinvention’. It is time to dig inside and find a new ‘me’. It is time to start a new journey and feel a new excitement of facing the unknown. It is time to be free from the book keeping of success and failure and enjoy the journey at every step. It is time to spread whatever little worth sharing that I have learnt in the past, unlearn a lot of the waste that has entered inside and learn so much new that can enrich my soul.
And what if I stop midway to enjoy the fragrance and the beauty of the flowers and rest for a while! Or sit out in the open in the night and count the stars and look out for the theatrics the falling stars play in the night skies! Or sit at the sea side and let the approaching waves touch my feet and immerse my soul with happiness and delight! Oh yes, there is time enough for me to do everything at my own sweet pace.
At fifty, I am a child born again. Only I know myself better now and am at peace with myself.
In just a few days, I will get up and start a new journey.
…And ready to live every moment before I leap beyond the skies….
Posted in Times of India on 26th March 2018. Link below-