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It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen!

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On turning 51
(The thoughts of the author are purely personal. Many in the same age bracket may relate to the unique attitude this magical age of 51 provides)

By Sunita Vijay

Last year on turning fifty, I challenged the saying ‘Never ask a woman her age’. As a woman, I had no qualms in declaring my entry into the ‘Club Fifty’. Rather I felt proud to reach this stage. It was an exhilarating feeling. The day was appropriate for reflections, to discover the smarter and wiser me while still being young enough to enjoy both age appropriate youth and wisdom. The scary tag of fifty was not dismaying. If forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age. And I am loving it!
If turning fifty was a milestone, touching auspicious51 is like hitting half century in a T20 match. The hurried pace of life is unstoppable. So much to do, such less time in hand and I am already youthfully old. A morale boosting heading of an article in national daily, ‘Fifty is the new twenty’, was a breezy read just few days before my birthday. It filled me with new charge, to see life from a different prism. And, I share…
Today, as I log in on my birthday page, while enjoying the last few days of the teens of this century, some interesting updates show up. I find that optimism embraces me strongly yet vulnerable moments do exist. I handle problems with savoir-faire, but still have my rough side too. Patience has become my friend, not best friend. Moody days cloud me but the effort is on to show the door to clutter. I thoughtfully listen to those who correct me, a trait that was missing earlier. I let others praise me, rather let my tongue engage in self-praise. I have developed my own ways to handle things, yet I ask for help.
The proverbs that I challenged earlier now make sense. I readily accept that ‘grapes can be sour’ as some things will remain unaccomplished. If life has no undo button, the cool me then says let it be. I have started believing in, ‘Do nothing by halves’, even enmity, but I easily forgive and forget my adversaries. I salute the philosophy, ‘If I don’t get a thing, I deserve something much better’. ‘The cheapest facelift and weightless makeup kit is a smile’, I make sure that I wear one all the time. ‘A man too careful of danger lives in continual torment’, I try to enjoy the present moment. ‘Wisdom will eventually reward you’, and I possess uncountable wealth in the form of wisdom streaks, the silver sprinkling in abundance in my hair; adorning my sagacity now attracts advise seekers. Helping them fills me with an exuberant feeling. ‘A diamond with a flaw is better than a common stone that is perfect’ – the diamond in me is not without fault lines but I relish the beautiful me in this imperfection. Yes, I am flawed, I am imperfect, I work towards polishing myself. I am the best, this attitude I have earned as I have aged. I sail in this feeling. I agree, that without a miss I exhibit blatant colours of a typical middle-aged woman, my seasoned idiosyncrasies are irritable at times, but I care less. This unique confidence emerges only after completing fifty plus cycles around the Sun.
I have not read spiritual books but spiritual awakening is dawning on me slowly. People’s behaviour is intuitively understandable. Even with my dim eyesight I can see through. The energy of youngsters is enviable, the happiness of young kids is infectious; I embrace change while remaining comfortable in my skin. Selfish friends no longer irritate me, annoying people are easy to deal with. A clear message written on my forehead that cannot be missed by one and sundry, ‘As if I care’. On any day, if my mirror says I have performed better than many of my age, my day is made. If I have to prepare my balance sheet; the figures are promising. Few good friends and family stand as my major asset against innumerable manageable problems as liabilities. Little things make me happy, long term plans do not fascinate me anymore. Shopping enthralls me, reiterating that I am still young at heart. I love to keep myself away from irritating people and situation. Trying to be less on virtual world and more on real connects. I love growing flowers; I admire the gardener in me. I feel happy with other people’s happiness nowadays. I love my friends unconditionally. I feel small against the tech knowledge of youngsters, I try to upgrade myself.
My family members may not agree but I am adaptable, I am flexible and I admit that the irritable age-acquired rigidity fades to diminish, but I am trying to improve. At times my daughter finds me outdated, my husband is astonished at the metamorphosis in my behaviour but they love me.
Nuland in his book, The Art of Aging, mentions, ‘The Art of Aging is a work of luminous insight, unflinching candour, and profound compassion.’ I agree, it’s an art and I’ll master it. The practice to grow old gracefully has begun. The journey to self-explore and becoming a better person is on. Each day brings new challenges and new awakenings. I am not giving up. If I were to count the best out of my countless blessings- howsoever old I may grow, my parents still treat me like their little girl. I revel in this feeling.